International arms trade
In this chapter, students will learn about the dynamics of the global arms trade and how they have changed substantially from the end of the Cold War to the new era marked by the 9/11 terror attacks. Sales of major combat equipment continue to pose the greatest challenge in managing relations between states. But, as the proportion of intra-state armed conflicts has accelerated, small arms and light weapons (SALW) have become increasingly important. In an era of asymmetric warfare, the ‘high end’ of the weapons spectrum has also become cause for increasing concern as some regional powers seek the technology to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Using shifting United States policies as a primary example (given its central role in the arms trade), this chapter traces the political, economic and strategic factors driving these three strands of the arms trade: major combat systems, small arms and technology suited to building nuclear weapons.