Third World Arms Industries

April 17, 1987

Report Outline
Special Focus


In the Middle East. Iraq is using armored personnel carriers that were made in Brazil to battle Iranian troops. South African security forces shoulder Israeli-licensed Uzi machine guns in their fight against black nationalist guerrillas. In Nicaragua, the “contra” rebels use South Korean-made M-16 rifles to fight Sandinista government forces. In the 1982 Falklands War, Argentina put Israeli missileloaded patrol boats to sea against British naval forces. Anti-communist rebels in Afghanistan are firing Chinese-made surface-to-air missiles against Soviet warplanes.

As these instances suggest, the big powers no longer have a monopoly on global arms sales. Since 1973, the Third World's share of world arms exports has risen from 2.3 percent to 15 percent, according to a forthcoming report by the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA). At the same time, the U.S. share has fallen from about 40 percent to about a fourth, and the Soviet Union's from about 40 percent to about 30 percent.

Some of the new arms-exporting nations have found weapons to be their most profitable products. Today, more than 60 Third World nations produce and export weapons, ranging from the sophisticated tanks and aircraft of Brazil and Israel to the light guns and ammunition of South Korea. Chile and Pakistan. However, most of the new arms for export are such traditional weapons as mortars and rifles. About half of these weapons—whether traditional or high-tech—are shipped to the Middle East, where they are being used in the Iran-Iraq War and elsewhere. The rest are being shipped to nations all over the globe.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Arms Sales and Trafficking
Jun. 19, 2012  Small Arms Trade
Dec. 09, 1994  Arms Sales
Apr. 17, 1987  Third World Arms Industries
May 04, 1979  America's Arms Sales
May 07, 1976  World Arms Sales
Sep. 02, 1970  International Arms Sales
Apr. 28, 1965  Traffic in Arms
Sep. 09, 1936  Government Manufacture of Munitions
May 11, 1933  Arms Embargoes and the Traffic in Munitions
Apr. 27, 1925  Conference for Control of the International Traffic in Arms
Arms Control and Disarmament
Exports and Imports
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean