Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Arms: Berlin declines comment on reported Saudi deal of up to 800 tanks

Source: IRNA

Berlin, Jun 18, IRNA -- Germany's government refused to comment Monday on a press report that said Saudi Arabia is to purchase 600 to 800 Leopard 2 combat tanks, not 200 to 300 as reported a year ago.

A sale of the Leopard 2 tanks by German arms manufacturer, Kraus-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), would require green light by the top-secret National Security Council, headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Asked about the Saudi tank deal whose worth is reportedly estimated at 10 billion euros, deputy government spokesman, Georg Streiter told media representatives, 'As a matter of principle we do not comment on that.'

The Economics Ministry in Berlin said it had not received yet any application for an export permit.

Meanwhile, KMW said it had not received an order from Saudi Arabia for its battle tanks.

German peace groups, church and labor union organizations have joined German

opposition parties in lambasting the planned sale of tanks to the dictatorial Saudi regime.

They have expressed strong concern over the secretive nature of the arms deal,

saying these these tanks could be used to crush internal dissent in either Saudi

Arabia or neighboring Bahrain where Riyadh played a key role in smashing a popular

uprising in March, 2011.

Weapons from Germany have been massively deployed in the Middle East and North Africa to smash peaceful protests, according to a report published by the

London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI).

German weapon exports included small firearms, ammunition and military vehicles

which were used to squash demonstrations.