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Yearbook 2008: Armaments, Disarmament, Security

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

Press release
9 June 2008
Embargo: Not for release before 9 June 2008, 11.00 CET


Armaments, Disarmament and International Security

A window of opportunity for arms control in 2008–2009

The next 12 months promise the beginnings of the first serious discussions of arms control and disarmament in more than a decade, according to Dr Bates Gill, Director of SIPRI, speaking at the launch of SIPRI Yearbook 2008.

As shown in the new edition of the SIPRI Yearbook:

• Armed conflicts are far more complex and intractable than is often thought and the traditional classification of conflicts is breaking down.

• Military spending, arms production and international arms transfers are all on the rise:

• world military spending totalled $1339 billion in 2007, a real-terms increase of 6% since 2006;

- arms sales by the 100 largest arms-producing companies in 2006 increased by 8% in nominal terms over 2005;

- international transfers of major conventional weapons were 7% higher over the period 2003– 2007 than in 2002–2006.

• While 8 states possess almost 10 200 operational nuclear weapons, many arms control and nonproliferation agreements are faltering or making little progress.

• Efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—nuclear, biological or chemical—are increasingly focused on individuals and non-state groups, rather than states.

In response to these challenges, there is growing urgency around the globe to bring new life and a mainstream momentum to arms control. There are new leaders in the UN, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the UK and, from January 2009, the USA—who will find it politically possible to take concrete action on the arms control and disarmament front. Encouraging technological developments allow greater certainty in the monitoring and verification of arms control agreements.

‘The movement to reinvigorate arms control efforts must stake common ground across the political divides of right and left, “doves” and “hawks”, nationalists and internationalists, hope and fear,’ said Gill. A global consensus on arms control and disarmament must include both nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states and be supported by think tanks and other non-governmental organizations.

‘Voices from across the political spectrum are coming to recognize again the value of arms control in the face of looming threats to humankind,’ said Gill, ‘Although we face tremendous obstacles, a new window of opportunity is opening to realize constructive progress on arms control and disarmament. It is clearly in the interest of citizens and governments alike to take pragmatic and positive steps in the right direction.’

Full release with report highlights (PDF)

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