'At the same time, South Korea is aiming to realize its goal of becoming a major arms exporter'.
Sales of weapons and military services by the world's largest defense contractors totaled $374.8 billion in 2016, a 1.9 percent increase from the previous year, according to the most recent worldwide arms industry data from Stockholm global Peace Research Institute. Senior researcher Pieter D. Wezeman told AFP the "increasingly nuclear weapons capability in North Korea" has led to "major investments" in the South.
In defiance of repeated global condemnations and sanctions, Pyongyang fired an intercontinental ballistic missile last week, which reached an altitude of 4,475 kilometers before splashing into the sea 950 kilometers east of its launch site, North Korean state media said. With Donald Trump vowing to boost the Pentagon's budget and refurbish the U.S. nuclear arsenal, "that growth is likely to continue", says CNN.
Once a mainly agricultural backwater devastated by war, South Korea has been one of the world's largest importers of military equipment and technology for decades - mostly from the U.S. - but in recent years its domestic sector has grown rapidly.
Some countries are eager to build up their defence, South Korea being one example in the face of growing threats from the North. However, the trends for arms sales in the largest arms-producing countries- namely the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany-displayed clear divergences. South Korea's missiles, howitzers, submarines, and warplanes are particularly popular across Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America.
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USA companies on the list increased their share of arms sales to 57.9 percent, with a combined total of $217.2 billion in 2016, boosted by military operations overseas and the acquisition of large weapon systems by other countries, according to the report. The first of these, the conglomerate Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), which developed a supersonic training hunter T-50 Golden Eagle with the American Lockheed Martin, is in 48th place. Per the SIPRI fact sheet, Lockheed Martin's sales grew by 10.7 percent a year ago.
Global arms sales have risen for the first time in more than five years, as rising geopolitical tensions fuel a surge in defence spending.
Concerns over North Korea's missile and nuclear-weapons programmes helped South Korean companies record a 20.6% sales increase to $8.4bn, the largest total among developing countries.
In Europe, SIPRI found "there were overall decreases in the arms sales of Trans-European, French, and Italian companies, while companies in the United Kingdom and Germany recorded overall increases", with eight British companies ranking in the top 20.