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Swedish think tank warns of brewing arms races

STOCKHOLM (AFP): Surging global weapons transfers are raising concerns about arms races in tension-fraught areas of the globe, a leading peace research group warned.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in an annual report that global arms sales had soared 22 per cent in the period from 2005 to 2009 compared to 2000 to 2004.

Imports of combat aircraft accounted for 27 per cent of the volume in the last five years.

"Orders and deliveries of these potentially destabilising weapon systems have led to arms race concerns in the following regions of tension: the Middle East, North Africa, South America, South Asia and South East Asia," it said.

According to the expert in charge of the report, Paul Holtom, resource-rich countries were setting the trend by using their earnings to build out their combat aircraft fleets.

"Neighbouring rivals have reacted to these acquisitions with orders of their own. One can question whether this is an appropriate allocation of resources in regions with high levels of poverty," he added.

In the case of South America, the institute found arms imports were 150 per cent higher during the last five years compared to the beginning of the millennium.

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