WASHINGTON - US foreign arms sales rose by nearly $10 billion in 2014, a 35 percent increase, according to a new congressional report. Despite a stagnant international weapons market and increased competition among suppliers, American foreign weapons receipts rose from $26.7 billion to $36.2 billion last year. 

The study, reported by the New York Times, attributed the windfall in part to multibillion-dollar contracts with South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who are among the top purchasers of American firearms. The U.S. was the top firearms exporter in 2014, making up more than 50 percent of the market, followed by Russia, who had roughly $5.5 billion in sales. Sweden was third with roughly $5.5 billion in sales, followed by France with $4.4 billion and China with $2.2 billion. 

Amid escalating tensions with nuclear-armed North Korea, South Korea was the world’s top firearms purchaser last year with contracts exceeding $7.7 billion, more than $7 billion of which was from U.S. contracts. Iraq was second in the world with $7.3 billion in weapons purchases, as the nation looks to build up its military infrastructure in the wake of American troop withdrawal.

 Brazil, another developing nation building its military force, was third with $6.5 billion worth of purchase agreements, primarily for Swedish aircraft.

The report to Congress found that total global arms sales rose slightly in 2014 to $71.8 billion, from $70.1 billion in 2013. Despite that increase, the report concluded that “the international arms market is not likely growing over all,” because of “the weakened state of the global economy.”

It was the second successive year that global sales remained steady, suggesting that the market has begun to level off after several years of extreme fluctuation. Although firearms sales were up $1.7 billion last year, the study said “the international arms market is not likely growing over all” due to “the weakened state of the global economy.” The annual Library of Congress report was delivered to Congress this week.