|Leopard 2 Tank|
Last year, Germany denied reports that it had agreed to export 270 Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia. Exports of military equipment cannot be officially acknowledged as they are confidential and disclosure is punishable by a fine or jail. Opposition lawmakers heaped pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government after reports it had cut a secret deal to sell the tanks, saying it contravened the country’s export guidelines for military hardware.
Arms exports are a sensitive issue in Germany given its Nazi past as well as the role arms makers like Krupp played in feeding 19th and 20th century wars with exports to both sides of conflicts.
Germany has refrained from exporting heavy weapons to Gulf states in the past, given its close relationship with Israel and more recently because of the so-called Arab Spring.
Citing industry sources, Bild am Sonntag said Saudi Arabia wanted to sign the deal by July 20.
Spanish firm General Dynamic/Santa Barbara would produce the tanks under licence by the German firms, the newspaper said.