World Bulletin / News Desk
Germany’s arms exports have significantly increased in the first half of 2015 and reached €3.5 billion, the German government said in a report released Wednesday.
The U.K., Israel, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, India and Kuwait have become top importers of German arms, according to the government’s semi-annual arms sales report.
Despite a promise by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition partner Social Democrats for a more restrictive arms exports policy, the German government approved € 3.5 billion worth of arms exports between January and June this year, an increase of 59 percent compared with the same period last year.
The share of EU countries in Germany’s military sales has been €1.5 billion; to NATO countries it has been €269 million. Military exports to other countries reached a volume of €1.67 billion in the first half of 2015.
German government announced Wednesday that the significant increase in numbers was the result of a number of mega deals, and do not represent a shift from the policy of the coalition government.
"German government sticks to the policy of strict rules and export controls in arms sales," government spokesman Steffen Seibert said at a press conference in Berlin.
The U.K. purchased four tanker aircrafts and other military equipment worth € 1.16 billion.
Export licenses approved for Israel in the first half of 2015 reached €391 million, including a highly sophisticated Dolphin-class submarine. The hi-tech submarine is capable of carrying cruise missiles tipped with nuclear warheads, according to weekly Der Spiegel.
Saudi Arabia has become the third-largest importer of German defense products with exports amounting to €178 million followed by Algeria, India and Kuwait.
German opposition parties sharply criticized government for not honoring its promises for a more restrictive arms exports policy.
"The significant increase in arms exports shows once again that a restrained arms exports policy announced by Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel was merely a farce," Green Party lawmaker Agnieszka Brugger said in a written statement Wednesday.
German vice chancellor and Social Democrat Party leader promised more transparency in Germany’s defense exports ahead of elections in 2013 and advocated strict policies in issuing licenses for military exports.
Green Party lawmaker Brugger called for a law to introduce binding rules for a restrictive arms exports policy.
"The strict provisions of the arms exports directive should not remain on paper, with an arms exports law they should be finally implemented," she argued.
Left Party lawmaker Jan van Aken said that the government’s pledge for a restrictive arms exports policy had turned out to be an "empty promise".
He criticized arms exports to Middle East countries and conflict regions.
"Recent numbers show that there is a need for new, clear legislation to ban such arms exports," he said in a written statement.