updated 6/7/2005 11:03:06 AM ET 2005-06-07T15:03:06

For the first time since the Cold War, global military spending exceeded $1 trillion in 2004, nearly half of it by the United States, a prominent European think tank said Tuesday.

As military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terror continue, the world spent $1.035 trillion on defense costs during the year, corresponding to 2.6 percent of the planet's gross domestic product, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said.

The figure "is only 6 percent lower in real terms than it was in (1987-1988), which was the peak," said SIPRI researcher Elisabeth Skons, who co-authored the organization's annual report.

Worldwide military spending rose by 6 percent, matching the average annual increase since 2002, the institute said.

The United States accounted for 47 percent of all military expenditure, while Britain and France each made up 5 percent of the total.

Besides its regular defense budget, the United States has allocated an extra $238 billion since 2003 to fight terrorism, according to the report. "These appropriations are now assuming extraordinary proportions," Skons said.

While continued military operations in the Middle East are responsible for much of the military spending, the rest of the world is also spending more money on security, the report said.

"It's hard to put the United States in the center, or blame everything on the U.S.," said Alyson J.K. Bailes, the think tank's director.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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