STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Massive U.S. spending on the war on terrorism pushed global military expenditure above $1 trillion in 2004, the sixth successive year the total has risen, a leading research institute said on Tuesday.
World military expenditure rose 5 percent to $1.04 trillion, still 6 percent below a Cold War peak in 1987-88, but up sharply since 1998, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its latest yearbook.
"World military spending...is again approaching its level at the height of the Cold War," the think tank said. "
"The major determinant of the world trend in military expenditure is the change in the United States."
U.S. military spending accounted for nearly half the global figure, rising 12 percent last year to $455 billion, the Swedish government-funded institute said.
That was more than the combined total of the 32 next most powerful nations, SIPRI said. The figure was set to rise still further to $502 billion in 2010.
U.S. spending "has increased rapidly during the period 2002-2004 as a result of massive budgetary allocations for the 'global war on terrorism', primarily for military operations in
Afghanistan and Iraq," SIPRI said.
By February 2005 the total amount of extra spending requested for the 'global war on terrorism' since Sept. 11 2001 had reached $346 billion, the institute said.
"While U.S. military spending is still lower than during the Cold War in terms of its share of
GDP, the sustainability of the current levels is being increasingly questioned," SIPRI said.
U.S. military spending increased to 3.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) last year from 3.0 percent in 1999, but remained well below its Cold War peak of more than 6 percent.
The top five countries by military spending -- the United States, Britain, France, Japan and China -- spent nearly two-thirds of the world total last year, according to the institute whose database contains officially reported military spending for 159 countries.
Growth in China's military spending slowed to 7 percent -- $35 billion -- while Russia's 2004 national defense budget increased almost 5 percent to $19 billion, SIPRI said.
Based on data for the past five years, Russia has overtaken the United States as the world's leading supplier of conventional weapons. Russia, the United States, Britain, France and Germany accounted for 81 percent of all conventional weapons delivered in 2000-2004.
China and India were the two main recipients of conventional arms in 2004, the institute said.
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