German weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch will no longer sell to non-NATO nations because Berlin has made it too difficult to obtain contracts, especially in the Middle East, according to DPA News Agency. The arms company made the announcement Monday.
Lengthy restrictions imposed by the German government on arms sales abroad have led to serious profit falls for Heckler & Koch, one of the world's largest weapons manufacturers. The company saw a 90 percent decline in profits last year, exacerbated by Berlin's blocking of a major sale of G36 assault rifle parts to Saudi Arabia over human rights concerns in the Gulf kingdom. The deal had been previously approved in 2008, but Germany later toughened its already strict regulations on arms sales to foreign countries.
Heckler & Koch said it will now only sell to countries considered to be free and democratic, including all NATO nations except for Turkey. Other clients such as Brazil, India and Mexico would also be ruled out. The company was criticized last year after German media reports revealed that the arms manufacturer had illegally delivered around 9,472 G36 assault rifles to Mexico between 2003 and 2011. Heckler & Koch weapons are used globally and the G36 assault rifle, in particular, can be found in the hands of armies worldwide, including U.S. special forces.
German Economic Minister Sigmar Gabriel called for curbing the sale of German weapons abroad after taking office in 2013. Despite his efforts along with German cultural sensitivity toward arms sales following the nation's World War II past, Germany's arms exports doubled last year. The nation is the fifth-largest exporter of arms in the world, behind the U.S., Russia, China and France, according to a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
In September, Heckler & Koch won a contract to supply the French military, replacing France's domestically produced FAMAS F1 assault rifle with the Heckler & Koch 416 F as the army's standard individual weapon. Exports are to begin next year and continue over a 10-year period.