German Arms Sales Boosted by Tanks for Qatar, Israel Submarine

  • Export licenses for Persian Gulf country worth $1.8 billion
  • Merkel government report cites need to help combat terrorism

Germany approved sales of Leopard battle tanks to Qatar and a submarine delivery for Israel last year, almost doubling the value of weapons-export licenses to 7.9 billion euros ($8.7 billion), according to the government.

Other big-ticket military sales cleared by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government in 2015 include four tanker aircraft for the U.K and two 206-class submarines for Colombia, the Economy Ministry in Berlin said in a report published Wednesday. Export licenses granted in 2014 were worth 4 billion euros.

While Germany pursues “a restrained arms-export policy,” global challenges such as Islamist terrorism in North Africa and the Middle East “are taken into account and play a key role in making case-by-case assessments,” according to the report.

Germany was the fifth-biggest arms exporter between 2011 and 2015, behind the U.S., Russia, China and France, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. About 40 percent of Germany’s export approvals were for countries in the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance countries and similar allies. Others included, South Korea, Kuwait and Singapore.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has defended the government’s arms-trade policy, saying approvals for small arms such as machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, which are often used in civil wars, have declined. The tank sale to Qatar was agreed in 2013 at a time when Gabriel’s Social Democrats were in the opposition.

The value of small-arms export approvals fell 32 percent from 2014 to 32.4 million euros, the lowest in 15 years, the ministry said. Small-arms exports to non-allies dropped 33 percent to 14.5 million euros.

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