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WEAPONS

India leads arms imports: Swedish think tank

India has been the world's biggest importer of weapons over the past five years, with Asian countries making up four of the top five, according to a new report from Swedish think tank SIPRI.

India leads arms imports: Swedish think tank

The report also highlighted how the world’s major arms supplying countries had in recent years competed for trade in Libya, and in other Arab countries gripped by the recent wave of pro-democracy uprisings.

“India is the world’s largest arms importer,” the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said as it released its latest report on trends in the international arms trade.

“India received nine percent of the volume of international arms transfers during 2006-10, with Russian deliveries accounting for 82 percent of Indian arms imports,” it said.

Its arms imports jumped 21 percent from the previous five-year-period with 71 percent of its orders being for aircraft.

India’s arms purchases were driven by several factors, said Siemon Wezeman of SIPRI’S Arms Transfers Programme.

“The most often cited relate to rivalries with Pakistan and China as well as internal security challenges,” he wrote.

China and South Korea held joint second place on the list of global arms import, each with six percent, followed by Pakistan, on five percent.

Aircraft accounted for 45 percent of Pakistan’s arms imports, which had bought warplanes from both China and the United States. Pakistan’s arms imports were up 128 percent on the previous five-year period, SIPRI noted.

Greece rounded off the top-five list arms importers, with four percent of global imports.

Since the lifting of a UN arms embargo on Libya in September 2003, Britain, France, Italy and Russia had all competed to win orders from Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, said the report.

Qaddafi’s forces are currently using tanks, artillery and warplanes to reclaim territory held by the opposition forces.

Egypt had received 60 percent of its major arms imports from the United States between 2006 and 2010, said the SIPRI report.

They included “M-1A1 tanks and M-113 armoured vehicles of the type present

during demonstrations in the country in January 2011,” it added.

A pro-democracy uprising forced Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to step down on February 11, after nearly three decades of autocratic rule, after pro-democracy uprising.

But the conflict left at least 384 dead and more than 6,000 injured.

Russia, Montenegro, the Netherlands and China had also supplied weapons to the Mubarak regime, said the SIPRI report.

The United States remained the world’s largest military equipment exporter, accounting for 30 percent of global arms exports in 2006-10, 44 percent of which went to to Asia and Oceania, SIPRI said.

The rest of the top five arms suppliers were: Russia, with 23 percent of the total market; Germany (11 percent); France (seven percent); and Britain (four percent).

“There is intense competition between suppliers for big-ticket deals in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America,” said Dr Paul Holtom, head of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.

He cited the efforts of the Eurofighter consortium to sell their plane across the world against rival warplanes, with competition particuarly fierce for the markets in Brazil and India.

Britain, France, Germany and Italy were also competing for orders for naval equipment from Algeria, noted SIPRI.

The think tank, which specialises in research on conflicts, weapons, arms control and disarmament, was created in 1966 and is 50-percent financed by the Swedish state.

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WEAPONS

Sweden world’s 13th most peaceful nation

Sweden has been ranked the 13th most peaceful country in the world by a global peace index, down from 11th in 2014.

Sweden world's 13th most peaceful nation
Sweden's arms trade is keeping it down in the rankings. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT

According to the 2015 Global Peace Index (GPI), recently released by the Institute for Economics and Peace, Iceland remains the world's most peaceful country.

Sweden's other Nordic neighbours Denmark, Finland and Norway all ranked in the top 20, taking the second, sixth and 17th spots respectively.

Denmark also came in second in the 2013 and 2014 reports, each time snapping at the heels of Iceland, which has been declared the world's most peaceful country each year since 2008.

According to the report, 15 of the 20 most peaceful countries in the world are in Europe, while the Middle East and North Africa remain the most violent regions in the world. The United States was at number 94, while Syria was at the very bottom of the 162-country list.

“The most substantial changes in the Index occurred in the Middle East and North Africa where several countries suffered from an upsurge in violence related to sectarian strife and civil conflicts,” the report noted.

Like in previous years, Sweden, which in 2014 celebrated two centuries of peace, is kept down in the rankings largely because it sells arms to other countries.

Despite enjoying a global reputation for peacemaking and generous foreign aid, the Scandinavian nation is the world's 11th largest exporter of weapons, including Saab's Jas Gripen jets, and has counted a number of regimes criticized for human rights abuses as its customers since the Cold War ended, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

READ ALSO: Sweden scraps controversial Saudi arms deal

The GPI comprises 23 indicators of the existence of violence or fear of violence, which include metrics such as the level of perceived criminality in the society, impact of terrorism, and military expenditure as percentage of the country's gross domestic product.

Each of the indicators for a given country is graded on a scale of one to five and then indexed into a final score, which can then be compared against other countries.

Sweden's indexed score was 1.36 while Iceland's was 1.148. In comparison, Syria's score was 3.645. Notably, Sweden scored around 1.0 or at least below 2.0 in nearly all areas apart from 'weapons exports' in which it received 5 out of 5.

A video explainer from the Institute for Economics and Peace is below and an interactive map can be accessed here