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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Retains Top Ranking In Conventional Weapons

WASHINGTON -- The United States continues to be the world's major conventional arms dealer, claiming more than 70 percent of the Third World market in 1993 according to a new government report.


The report, affirming a steady post-Cold War trend, was cited by arms control advocates as evidence that the Clinton administration -- which has insisted that stemming the spread of arms is a priority -- must overhaul its policy.


Undersecretary of State Lynn Davis told reporters Wednesday that formulating a new conventional arms policy had taken a back seat to other matters, but she hoped it could be finished "in the coming month or so."


The report, by Richard Grimmet of the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service, found that in 1993, the value of U.S. arms transfer agreements rose only slightly from $14.2 billion in 1992 to $14.8 billion.


Yet "for the fourth year in a row, the United States ranked first by a substantial margin in arms-transfer agreements with the Third World."


The U.S. share of arms transfers in 1993 was 72.6 percent in 1993, up from 55.8 percent in 1992.


The report deals specifically with conventional weapons, not with weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, chemical and biological -- in which the United States and most other countries have vowed not to traffic.


Over 79 percent of the 1993 arms agreements resulted form costly new orders by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, valued at $9.5 billion and $2.2 billion respectively. Arms deals with these two countries picked up after the 1991 Gulf War that ousted Iraq from Kuwait.


Once a major arms supplier to the Third World, Russia has seen its share of the market drop dramatically to 8.8 percent since the fall of communism.


In 1993, Moscow remained a distant third-placed supplier with arms transfers valued at $1.8 billion, up slightly from $1.6 billion posted in 1992.


The United Kingdom ranked second as a supplier to the United States, with $1.8 billion in sales, while Germany had $600 million in sales, France had $200 million and Italy, effectively nothing.


These four major Western European suppliers as a group registered a notable decline in their collective share of Third World arms transfers in 1993, from 28.8 percent in 1992 to 12.7 percent in 1993.