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Preface to the first SIPRI Yearbook


Yearbook1968_cover.jpgThis book is the work of part of the international staff which has been brought at this Institute in Stockholm during the past two years; they come from countries and disciplines. The aim has been to produce a factual and balanced account of a controversial subject – the arms race and attempts to stop it.

The Yearbook was designed to fill a gap. Until now there has been no authoritative international source which provided-in one place-an account of recent trends in world military expenditure, the state of the technological arms race, and the success or failure of recent attempts at arms limitation or disarmament. There are United Nations reports on the world economy, on world food and agriculture, and on the world social situation: but on the question of armaments and disarmament –a question perhaps more central to United Nations purposes-there is no such document.

The Yearbook is in two parts. The first part gives a narrative account of recent developments. The second part gives reference material. It includes a great deal of material which has not, to our knowledge, been brought together before. There are, for example, series for military expenditure over the last twenty years for 118 countries, at current and constant prices, with regional and world totals. The arms trade section of part II presents estimates of the value of exports of major weapons to third world countries since 1950, and a detailed Arms Trade Register for 1968, giving all the transactions we could find with third world countries in that year. There is a full account of nuclear testing before and after the Partial Test Ban Treaty-making the point that in fact the frequency of testing has been higher since the treaty than before it; and a list of accidents to nuclear weapons. There is a comprehensive chronology of disarmament efforts from 1945 to the present day, and a full list of the signatures, ratifications and accessions to the five arms limitation treaties and the Geneva Protocol of 1925. There are lists of conflicts, a set of maps of border disputes, and chronologies of two of the conflicts at present in progress-the Middle East conflict and the Nigerian-Biafran War.
Part I of the Yearbook begins with an account of the trends in world military expenditure-both long-term and short-term. This section is concerned with the movement in world military spending, particularly with the very sharp acceleration since 1965. It then selects two aspects of the present arms competition: first, the strategic arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, and secondly, the arms trade the rich and poor countries of the world.
The second chapter looks at the technological arms race. It begins with some documentation of the tremendously rapid rate of "product improvement" in weapons and the very high input of research per unit of output in the military compared with the civil field. Then it selects four examples, illustrating different kinds of technological development: the big improvements made in United States submarine-launched missiles; the developments, particularly in delivery systems, in chemical and biological warfare; the advance in helicopters; and the developments in one of the new night-fighting devices-the image intensifier.

The third chapter gives an account of what progress was made the year in arms limitation or disarmament. There is a full analysis of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a review of all discussions in the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Conference. The chapter concludes with some background to the strategic arms limitation talks.
The Yearbook is factual: but of course the selection of the material and the way in which it is presented implies a set of valuations, and we should make explicit. Obviously the staff-drawn as they are from many different countries-have differing views on a wide number of questions. But they do not differ much in their views on the question of world armaments and disarmament. The common elements in their approach can be summarized thus: that the rise in world military spending, and more particularly the constant technological acceleration in weaponry is highly dangerous, and that the attempts so far made to slow down, halt or reverse the process have been incommensurate with the danger; that arms competition, though it is not the sole or main cause of world tensions and conflict, is an important independent factor which increases and exacerbates tensions: and that arms limitation or disarmament could help considerably to reduce those tensions.

Any yearbook of this kind must face the problem of avoiding biases. The main difficulty is that the material about weapons, nuclear testing and so on, comes to a large extent from United States publications, notably Congressional records and technical journals-material, incidentally, which was not used uncritically. Throughout the book we have repeated the point that far more material about military activity is available for the United States than for other countries. The Soviet Union and China publish little on these subjects. The smaller countries, including those in the West, are not nearly as free with information as the United States. No judgement is implied, therefore, in the almost exclusive use of United States examples.

This is the first SIPRI Yearbook. We hope to improve it year by year, and would be glad of all suggestions, corrections, comments and criticisms. The material was sent to the printer at the end July of this year. The main sections were brought up to date at the end of September. Almost everyone at SIPRI has had a hand in some part of the Yearbook. A particular debt is owed to Frank Blackaby, who directed the preparation of the report with remarkable skill, tact and industry, and to all those here at SIPRI, and especially the editorial staff, who worked through the long summer days and nights when most people in Sweden were on holiday.
We have had help in material and comments from a large number of people outside the Institute, both official and unofficial, in both Eastern and Western countries. (For example, all Governments were asked to check the series we have included for military expenditure.) None of them is responsible in any way for what we put in the final version.

30 September 1969

Robert Neild
Director, SIPRI