The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said the United States accounted for nearly three-fourths of the worldwide growth in military spending. Boosting its defense budget after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the United States accounted for 43 percent of the money dedicated worldwide to weapons and other military equipment last year.
The next five countries — Japan, Britain, France, China and Germany — together accounted for 23 percent of military spending.
Russia fell out of the top five because SIPRI changed its accounting practice to use figures based on market exchange rate for this year's report, analyst Elisabeth Skoens said. Previous reports have adjusted figures for purchasing power in developing countries and transition economies like Russia, inflating their numbers compared to other countries.
Nevertheless, Russia and China boosted defense spending by 12 percent and 18 percent respectively, largely due to modernization of their armed forces, SIPRI said.
Russia also remained the world's top weapons exporter, accounting for 36 percent of arms deliveries in 2002.
The rise in military spending "is due almost exclusively to the huge increase in U.S. military expenditures under the Bush Administration," the report said. "A review of the global expenditure trends shows that the rest of the world is not prepared, or cannot afford, to follow the USA's example in increasing military expenditure."
There were 21 major armed conflicts in 19 locations around the world in 2002, the lowest since 1998, SIPRI said. In 2001, there were 24 major armed conflicts in 22 locations.
SIPRI called for improved export controls to prevent future proliferation of cruise missiles and unmanned air vehicles, which the institute said could fall into the hands of terrorists.