German government to cancel Saudi tank deal: report

German government to cancel Saudi tank deal: report

BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
German government to cancel Saudi tank deal: report

German soldiers stand in front of a Leopard tank in this 2001 photo.

The German government will not approve a reported deal to sell up to 800 battle tanks to Saudi Arabia, a German daily said, citing government sources.

The sale of the Leopard-2 tanks had been billed as one of the biggest deals for the German armaments industry, Bild reported. But Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat in the left-right “grand coalition,” has “positioned himself against a tanks delivery to the autocratic royal house,” it said, citing government sources.

“Without agreement from the economy minister the deal has no chance,” Bild said. The report said the deal had not been sent to the German national security council, which counts Chancellor Angela Merkel among its members, for approval.

In 2012 Bild am Sonntag had reported that Saudi Arabia wanted to buy 600-800 Leopard battle tanks from Germany, more than twice as many as originally envisaged. Its latest report said that Saudi Arabia had been chasing the German tanks for years and had budgeted nearly 18 billion euros ($25 billion) for them.

The Leopard-2 tanks, Germany’s main battle tank, is also produced under license in Spain.

For decades Germany declined to sell heavy weapons to Saudi Arabia because of concerns over human rights and fears for Israel’s security. An Economy Ministry spokeswoman said the government did not give information about “individual procedural stages of possible approvals for export of munitions.”