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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 19, October 1997

1996 Arms Sales Surveyed

On 14 October, the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) published its annual Military Balance, containing a major survey of arms sales in 1996. The survey notes a large increase in weapons purchases by Middle Eastern and North African States, which together accounted for around 40% of all purchases. Saudi Arabia was by far the biggest single recipient, according to the study:

"Although the Saudi Arabian government has not disclosed its defence budgets for 1996 and 1997, The Military Balance estimates that Saudi Arabia spent over $17 billion on defence in 1996, and 1997 outlays are expected to be of the same order."

In addition, the Balance suggests that both Iran and Israel may have spent in excess of 10% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence in 1996 - higher than estimates provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Reports: Global arms sales reportedly grow, Associated Press, 14 October; Saudi top spenders in Middle East arms bazaar, Reuters, 15 October.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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