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May 27, 2007

1

the global arms trade & UN number crunching

by quaesitor

Countries of Concern identified by the Foreign Office for human rights abuses = 20
Number of these Countries of Concern to which the UK still exports arms = 19

Number Crunching in Private Eye (No. 1185) this week

The Foreign Office list of human rights abusers includes China, Cuba, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Iran, Myanmar, DR Congo, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkmenistan (see the official FCO report). Not entirely unexpected – except for the fact that we still sell them arms. Private Eye’s scary stats have spurred me to doing a bit of number crunching of my own. Bit geeky perhaps, and i’m certainly not claiming any authority in commenting on the full significance of it all (most of it is gleaned from Wiki and the CIA World Fact Book – so who knows how reliable it all is).

UN Security Council – PERMANENT MEMBERS

Due to the quirks of history, the following countries are the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council. They each have the power of veto.

  • Flag of People's Republic of China China
  • Flag of France France
  • Flag of United Kingdom UK
  • Flag of United States USA
  • Flag of Russia Russian Federation

The other 10 are voted on from member countries for 2 year terms.

World’s Biggest ARMS PRODUCERS

Below are the national shares of arms sales of the SIPRI Top 100 arms-producing companies in the world (excluding China), in 2004.

Country % of world arms sales
Flag of United States United States 63%
Flag of United Kingdom United Kingdom 12%
Flag of France France 7%
Flag of European UnionEuropean 4%
Flag of Italy Italy 3%
Flag of Germany Germany 2%
Flag of Japan Japan 2%
Flag of India India 1%
Flag of Israel Israel 1%
Flag of Russia Russia 1%
OTHER 3%

When you place this alongside the next chart, there are perhaps few surprises:

World’s Biggest ARMS SPENDERS

Rank Country Military expenditures, USD Date of information
World Total 1,000,000,000,000 2005
1 Flag of United States United States 478,200,000,000 2005
2 Flag of United Kingdom United Kingdom 48,300,000,000 2005
3 Flag of France France 46,200,000,000 2005
4 Flag of Japan Japan 42,100,000,000 2005
5 Flag of People's Republic of China People’s Republic of China 41,000,000,000 2005 est.
6 Flag of Germany Germany 33,200,000,000 2005
7 Flag of Italy Italy 27,200,000,000 2005
8 Flag of Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 25,200,000,000 2005
9 Flag of Russia Russia 21,000,000,000 2005 est.
10 Flag of India India 20,400,000,000 2005
11 Flag of South Korea South Korea 16,400,000,000 2005
12 Flag of Canada Canada 10,600,000,000 2005
13 Flag of Australia Australia 10,500,000,000 2005
14 Flag of Spain Spain 9,900,000,000 2005
15 Flag of Israel Israel 9,600,000,000 2005

Info and Stats taken from Wikipedia

Well, fancy that…

It is quite intriguing to compare these lists to those who are on the UN Security Council, and those who seek a permanent place in the reforms that will no doubt come about at some point. The aspirants are: Brazil, Germany, India & Japan, and each is backing the others’ claims.

  • red = UN security council permanent members
  • blue = countries seeking permanent seats

So the question is, can we ever trust the motivations and agenda of the permanent members (even, or perhaps especially, when the number is increased)? Will /can they do anything other than to protect the vested interests of their Arms industries, considering how much the respective economies depend on them? After all, the British firm BAE Systems alone had a revenue in 2006 of £14,000,000,000 – which is more than the current account balance for the entire country of Brazil (according to the CIA World Fact Book)

It all seems to be a question of the big boys on the block protecting their own corners and not letting any of the little boys in to play the games they themselves play. Presumably this is one of the reasons for the UNANIMOUS passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1737 which called for sanctions on Iran for developing its own nuclear programme. I’m certainly not in favour of an Iranian bomb – but it is certainly intriguing given that Russia, China, the US were in agreement and that the current council membership includes the Muslim countries of Indonesia and Qatar. But not a surprise given that the following countries are known to have nuclear weapons themselves:

Warheads active/total Year of first tests
Flag of United States United States 5,735/9,960 1945 (“Trinity”)
Flag of Russia Russia 5,830/16,000 1949 (“RDS-1”)
Flag of United Kingdom United Kingdom 200 1952 (“Hurricane”)
Flag of France France 350 1960 (“Gerboise Bleue”)
Flag of People's Republic of China China 130 1964 (“596”)

Well, well, well – isn’t it rather interesting that the nuclear big 5 just so happen to be the countries with permanent seats on the UN Security Council. Fancy that. Surely some coincidence…

Info and Stats taken from Wikipedia

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. May 27 2007

    Our modern-day nuclear bombs are something like 100 times stronger than those dropped on Japan during WWII.

    Also of interest:

    1) The UK, US and France have not ruled out a “first-strike” with nuclear weapons – China and Russia have.

    2) France is the only NATO country in posession of nuclear weapons which does not share them with NATO.

    3) It would take the UK some 6 days to launch a nuclear weapon, but France and the USA have targets programmed in already. Up to 6 American submarines are loaded, with missiles trained on targets, at any one time.

    Reply

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