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US arms sales shoot to record levels

Al Jazeera-US weapons sales more than tripled in 2011, reaching a record high, according to a new congressional report.

The country sold $66bn worth of arms last year, up from $21.4bn in 2010. The previous record had been $31bn in 2009; global arms sales declined slightly after that because of the economic crisis.

America’s largest customer was Saudi Arabia, which purchased more than $33bn worth of weapons from the US, including dozens of F-15 fighter jets, missiles, and other material.

The United Arab Emirates and Oman also both spent billions,┬ápurchases driven in part by fears over Iran’s regional ambitions. The Obama administration has touted these deals as a major stimulus for the US economy, saying the Saudi arms sales alone would generate some 75,000 new jobs.

The US also arranged several multi-billion dollar deals with Asian nations, including an agreement with China to sell transport planes worth more than $4bn.

All told, the US sold 78 per cent of the world’s arms in 2011. Russia was a distant second, with $4.8bn in arms sales.

The report was prepared by the Congressional Research Service, which conducts studies for US lawmakers.

Source: Al Jazeera

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