October 10, 2007

U.S. Leads in Weapons Trade — For Now

The United States still dominates the global arms trade, but its modus operandi has come under increased scrutiny, even as competitors battle for first place.

Australia, Britain, Japan and mush of Africa are among 100 countries that would like to create a U.N. treaty regulating the arms trade.

The NRA vehemently opposes the proposal — which would focus only on arms imports and exports, but which the advocacy group perceives as a slippery slide toward domestic gun regulations.

The United States has studiously avoided taking a position on the treaty, but last December was the lone dissenting vote among 153 nations on a General Assembly resolution creating the treaty process, reports Australia’s Herald Sun.

U.S. arms exports totaled $17 billion last year, giving it close to a 42 percent market share, according to the Congressional Research office.

Russia was second on the list, followed by the United Kingdom.

U.S. arms sales are booming due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those conflicts have made neighbors in Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia nervous, causing them to buy more weapons than ever.

But even those numbers weren’t enough to insure U.S. market hegemony.

Saying the United States can’t produce weapons fast enough to satisfy the need of its army, Iraq has ordered $100 million worth of military equipment from China.

Experts say the United States is losing more than a moneymaking opportunity with the Iraqi government.

More than 190,000 U.S. weapons supplied to Iraq have already gone missing, and are likely in the hands of insurgents; but many more will go missing if China becomes a weapons supplier, reports the Washington Post.

The Iraq government has no system in place to monitor its weapons, and is far less likely to track them if the United States is not empowered to make them do it.

U.S.-made weapons may be reaching the hands of insurgents in other ways.

The controversial private security firm Blackwater has been accused of smuggling weapons into Iraq that may have been sold on the black market later on.

Blackwater officials deny the charge.

Sources:

“U.N. members, gun lobby face treaty fight”
Herald Sun (Australia) October 2, 2007

“America cashes in on arms sales to developing world”
Guardian (U.K.), October 2, 2007

“Iraqis to pay China $100 million for weapons for police”
Washington Post, October 3, 2007

“Blackwater says allegations of arms smuggling are `baseless'”
Bloomberg, September 22, 2007

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