Worldwide military expenditure in 2008 totaled an estimated US$ 1464 billion, according to new figures released today by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This represents an increase of 4 per cent in real terms compared to 2007, and an increase of 45 per cent since 1999.

SIPRI today launched the 2009 edition of its Yearbook on Armaments, Disarmament and International Security. The Yearbook shows that the USA accounted for the majority (58%) of the global increase between 1999 and 2008, with military spending growing by $219 billion in constant 2005 prices over the period. Even so, it was far from the only country to pursue such a course. China and Russia, with absolute increases of $42 billion and $24 billion respectively, both nearly tripled their military expenditure over the decade.

Other regional powers—particularly India, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Brazil, South Korea, Algeria and the UK—also made substantial contributions to the total increase. ‘The idea of the “war on terror” has encouraged many countries to see their problems through a highly militarized lens, using this to justify high military spending,’ comments Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman, Head of the Military Expenditure Project at SIPRI. ‘Meanwhile, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost $903 billion in additional military spending by the USA alone.’


Besides the military expenditure figures, the release of the SIPRI Yearbook is anticipated by the international community for insight into recent developments in a number of security-related fields. According to the Yearbook’s survey of peacekeeping operations, another record was set last year with the total of international peace operation personnel reaching 187 586, a jump of 11 per cent since 2007 (the previous record year). Despite this, some of the ambitious missions being deployed in trouble spots like Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo remain far short of their envisioned strengths. This means hard choices and continuing challenges in manning and sustaining these important missions.

Arms production: USA and West Europe dominate

The SIPRI Yearbook also includes SIPRI’s list of the top 100 arms producing companies (excluding Chinese companies). The US company Boeing remained the top arms producer in 2007 — the most recent year for which reliable data are available — with arms sales worth $30.5 billion. All the top 20 companies in the ‘SIPRI Top 100’ for 2007 are US or European. The aggregate arms sales of the SIPRI Top 100 reached $347 billion in 2007, an increase of 11 per cent in nominal terms and 5 per cent in real terms over the SIPRI Top 100 for 2006.

Nuclear weapons

SIPRI estimates that in total there were around 8 400 operational nuclear warheads in the world, of which almost 2000 were kept on high alert and capable of being launched in minutes. Counting spare warheads, those in storage and those due for dismantlement, there were some 23 300 nuclear weapons in the arsenals of eight states: the USA, Russia, China, the UK, France, India, Pakistan and Israel according to the Yearbook. Analysis Besides statistical information, SIPRI Yearbook 2009 also includes analysis of pressing issues and key events in the fields of international security, peace and conflicts, armaments and disarmament. Highlights in SIPRI Yearbook 2009 include a chapter by Francis Deng and Roberta Cohen, architects of the UN policy on internally displaced populations, which points to the linked problems of population displacement and ‘one-sided’ violence committed by armed forces against civilians. Other chapters examine the prospects for the war in Afghanistan and developments in the control of conventional, chemical, biological and nuclear arms. And for the first time, the SIPRI Yearbook includes the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index, which ranks 144 countries according to their relative peacefulness.

The top 10 military spenders in current US dollars in 2008:

2008 Spending ($ b.)
 1 USA
 2 China 84.9*
 3 France 65.7
 4 UK
 5 Russia 58.6*
 6 Germany
 7 Japan
 8 Italy
 9 Saudi Arabia
 10 India 30.0

*SIPRI estimates.
Established in 1966, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI is an independent research institute focusing on international security, arms control, and disarmament. SIPRI has built its reputation on authoritative, balanced research, including its flagship publication, the SIPRI Yearbook. SIPRI was recently named as one of the world’s leading think tanks in the ‘Think Tank Index’ issued by the journal Foreign Policy.