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     Home > Culture & Society  >  2013-09-09 16:45:26
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Reaction to the Pope's remarks about the illegal arms trade

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ remarks at his Sunday Angelus where he denounced the illegal arms trade made headlines in many areas around the world. But how much is known about the shadowy trade in illegal arms and does it help to fuel conflicts around the world, as the Pope suggested it might? To find out more Susy Hodges spoke to Kaye Stearman of the UK-based NGO, Campaign against the Arms Trade.

Listen to the full interview with Kaye Stearman: RealAudioMP3

Stearman says their organization welcomes the Pope’s condemnation about the global illegal arms trade and when he questioned whether this trade could help to fuel wars and conflicts. But when asked how much the global arms trade, both legal and illegal, is worth, Stearman says the true numbers are "extremely difficult" to come by as it is “a fairly secretive business.” However, she says a recent research estimated that the legal arms trade is worth approximately “60 billion dollars a year,” whereas the illegal or semi-legal arms trade “might amount to another 5 billion dollars.”

What is not in dispute is the highly profitable nature of selling arms says Stearman. “We know that arms sales are immensely profitable for companies, whether legal or illegal” (sales) and that’s why “wars are very good for business.” She points out that the major arms companies did “very well out of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq” and following the scaling back of Western military operations there are now “looking for new export markets.” “And in the case of Africa,” she adds, “we know that illegal weapons dealing has certainly fuelled the conflicts in central and west Africa.”


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