The US approved $40 billion private arms sales in 2009

The U.S. government approved $40 billion in worldwide private arms sales in 2009, including more than $7 billion to Mideast and North African nations, according to media.

The new figures come from a report released by the State's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, indicate that international sales sought by U.S. defense firms have increased in the last two years.

"There's been a general relaxation of restraints on defense trade," said William D. Hartung, Director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation, a non-partisan Washington think tank. "There's a tendency to give industry the benefit of the doubt, instead of being more aggressive in regulating." More