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German opposition warns of controversial Saudi tank deal

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Berlin, Sep 24, IRNA -- Germany's largest opposition party, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), warned against the planned sale of hundreds German-made combat tanks to Saudi Arabia, saying it violated the country's export guidelines.

Talking to the German Press Agency (dpa), SPD foreign policy spokesman

Rolf Muetzenich stressed these tanks would neither contribute to safeguarding regional peace or human rights which are two important criteria for allowing the arms deal.

Muetzenich was responding to the latest remarks by German Defense Minister Thomas de Maziere who defended the planned sale, saying it was aimed at promoting regional stability.

Germany's government has yet to comment on a recent press report that said Riyadh is to purchase 600 to 800 Leopard 2 combat tanks, not 200 to 300 as reported over 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.

German peace, church and labor union organizations have joined opposition parties in protesting the sale whose worth is estimated at 10 billion euros.

They have expressed strong concern over the highly secretive nature of the arms sale, saying these these tanks could be used to crush internal dissent in either Saudi Arabia or Bahrain where Riyadh played a key role in smashing a popular rebellion in March 2011.

A broad majority of Germans strongly reject tank deal, according to polls.

Weapons from Germany have been massively deployed in the Middle East and North Africa to crush 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 street demonstrations.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 1028367

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