A Leopard-2 tank participates in military exercises during a Jan. 28 visit by German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen at the Bundeswehr combat training centerin Letzlingen, Germany. The German government will not approve a reported deal to sell up to 800 battle tanks to Saudi Arabia, according to a report. (Sean Gallup / Getty Images)
BERLIN — The German government will not approve a reported deal to sell up to 800 battle tanks to Saudi Arabia, a German Sunday newspaper said, citing government sources.
The sale of the Leopard-2 tanks was 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 was not sent for approval to the German national security council, which counts Chancellor Angela Merkel among its members.
In 2012 Bild am Sonntag 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 Sunday said Saudi Arabia was chasing the German tanks for years and had budgeted nearly €18 billion ($25 billion) for them.
The Leopard-2 tanks, Germany’s main battle tank, is also produced under license in Spain.
Germany declined to sell heavy weapons to Saudi Arabia for decades because of concerns over human rights and fears for Israel’s security.
Contacted by AFP, an economy ministry spokeswoman said the government did not give information about “individual procedural stages of possible approvals for export of munitions.”