The Threat of Conventional Weapons - Trade In Conventional Weapons, Small Arms Sales And The Role Of Igos And Ngos, Land Mines
proliferation national including factors
Weapons are an integral part of any military. Conventional weapons of the early twenty-first century are accurate and deadly enough to destroy almost all types of military targets, including buried command centers, hardened aircraft shelters, and tanks and other armored vehicles. Challenging and combating the proliferation, or spread, of weapons that can be used against the United States and its allies is a top priority on the national security agenda.
Weapons proliferation involves both the spread of arms across national borders and the buildup of states' arsenals. An increase in weapons sales and production, however, is not always associated with wars or other conflicts. Such factors as power, prestige, ideology, and perceived threats can influence greatly a state's decision to buy, sell, or produce weapons. Often companies and states increase their weapons production and export levels because of political and economic factors or the perceived need to stay ahead in technological innovation.
Both conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) pose their own set of unique problems. Conventional weapons include all types of armaments that do not fall under the WMD category, including small arms, machine guns, grenades, land mines, armored vehicles, radar equipment, aircraft, submarines, and ships. Key players in arms trafficking are individuals, transnational groups (which may include terrorists, organized crime, religious groups, drug traffickers, multinational businesses, or others), defense contractors, and governments themselves. Trade in surplus weapons is a significant source of revenue for several countries, including the United States.
Key factors in the proliferation of conventional weapons since 1990 have included Iraqi aggression against Kuwait, which made some Persian Gulf states increasingly insecure about their own national security; the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, which released weapons systems into the international market that were no longer needed by the newly independent states; and technological innovation that has reduced the time between a weapon's development and its replacement by a newer system, creating a surplus of outdated, but still powerful, weapons that find their way onto the world market.