Israel’s arms exports over the past four years were the highest ever, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
From 2015-2019, Israeli arms exports accounted for 3% of the global total, the report said. Israel was the world’s eighth-largest arms supplier, and its arms exports were 77% higher than in 2010-2014, SIPRI said.
The top three buyers of Israeli arms were India (45% of the total amount), Azerbaijan (17%) and Vietnam (8.5%). The top three arms suppliers to Israel were the US (78%), Germany (16%) and Italy (6.2%).
Israel’s military spending was $15.9 billion in 2018, a small increase of 0.7% compared with 2017. “After a peak in 2015 – related to military operations in 2014 in the Gaza Strip – Israeli military expenditure decreased by 13% in 2016 and by 1.0% in 2017,” the report said.
The Defense Ministry’s exports unit reported last year that military exports were $7.5b. in 2018, the first decline in three years. While the figure for 2018 was $1.7b. less than in the previous year, it was still higher than the average for the past decade.
The SIPRI report found that there was a 5.5% increase in arms transfers over the past decade and a 20% increase from 2005-2009. There was also a continued increase in arms transfers to the Middle East (61%), and the five largest importers were Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Australia and China.
While the top five largest arms exporters in 2015-2019 were the same as in 2010-2014 (the US, Russia, France, Germany and China), their combined total exports of major arms were 9.5% higher than before, accounting for 76% of all arms exports.
Arms imports by states in the Middle East increased 61% from 2015-2019 compared with 2010-2014. Saudi Arabia received 35% of all arms transfers to the region, followed by Egypt (16%), the UAE (9.7%), Iraq (9.7%) and Qatar (9.6%). The US supplied 53% of total arms transfers to the region, followed by France (12%) and Russia (11%).
The US was the top arms exporter in the world, delivering air-defense systems, armored vehicles, missiles and satellites, among other materiel, to 96 countries. American arms exports to the Middle East increased 79% over the last decade and in 2015-2019 accounted for 51% of total US arms exports, the report said.
Russian arms exports to the Middle East increased 30% over the past decade, with Egypt and Iraq the main recipients. While Russia has been supporting the Syrian regime since 2015, Russian arms deliveries to the war-torn country fell 87% since 2010, accounting for 3.9% of Russian arms exports to the region, the report said.
Among the top 10 arms exporters outside Europe and North America, apart from Israel’s large rise, South Korea had a 143% increase during the same time period, the report said.