Germany rethinking arms sales to Saudi Arabia

By Ryan Maass   |   Updated Jan. 5, 2016 at 2:00 PM
Sign up for our Security newsletter

BERLIN, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The German government is evaluating its sale of military equipment and arms to Saudi Arabia in response to escalating tensions between the kingdom and Iran.

The response came in an announcement by German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who condemned Saudi Arabia's decision to execute 47 prisoners at the start of 2016.

"We must now review whether in future we should take a more critical stance on defensive armaments which we have so far sold to Saudi Arabia for its national defense," Gabriel said.

The Saudi executions included Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr and three other Shiite Muslims, which prompted protests and the attacking of the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Iran and Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties after the attack.

German newspaper Handelsblatt reports Germany has halted the sale of tanks and G36 Heckler and Koch assault rifles to Saudi Arabia, however continues to sell other defensive weapons to the country.

German officials approved several arms trade agreements with Gulf region countries in early 2015, which included the sale of 15 patrol boats to Saudi Arabia, despite criticism of the countries' human rights records.

Germany is the world's fourth-largest arms exporter, with sales valued at roughly $4 billion in the first half of 2015.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Top Stories