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After Eurofighter, Germany OKs Iris-T Missile Sale to Saudi Arabia

Germany resumed direct arms exports to Saudi Arabia by approving the sale of missiles, ending a blockade in place since 2018, the government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Wednesday.

Hebestreit confirmed a report by the German weekly Spiegel, which said that Berlin had given the green light for the export of 150 Iris-T air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia.

“The details of this report are accurate,” said Hebestreit, speaking at a regular government news conference.

The newly approved Iris-T missiles could “be fired from aircraft at airborne targets, that is to say missiles, drones, and so on,” Hebestreit added.

Approval for the export of the missiles, manufactured by German group Diehl Defence, was granted towards the end of last year, Spiegel reported.

Germany blocked arms sales to Riyadh following the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

But Berlin has loosened its stance on weapons exports to the kingdom recently, with the government praising Saudi Arabia’s “constructive approach” in the Israel-Hamas war.

Saudi Arabia had not renounced plans to normalize relations with Israel since the beginning of its war with Hamas, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock noted Sunday.

Riyadh had also made efforts to intercept missiles fired at Israel by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Berlin on Monday said it was also ready to allow the export of Eurofighter jets to Saudi Arabia.

Until now, it had long used its veto rights – as part of the defense partnership behind the jet – to block a deal sought by London since 2018.

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