Citing concerns about risks to U.S. regional interests and the danger of weapons proliferation, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has called upon the Department of State to oppose the third-party transfer of sensitive U.S. equipment and technology as part of a reported Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system sale to Azerbaijan.
In a February 13th letter sent to the State Department Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, the ANCA asked for formal U.S. opposition to the Iron Dome Sale on the grounds that it would: “undermine U.S. interests by raising the risks of regional conflict, setting back the cause of peace, and potentially allowing advanced weapons technology to fall into the hands of anti-American powers.” Separately, the ANCA has, under the Freedom of Information Act, requested any official records related to the Iron Dome sale to Azerbaijan.
“In Ilham Aliyev’s hands, Iron Dome is a first strike weapon,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, “one that will only embolden him to escalate his aggression.” He added: “Green-lighting this sale would undermine all that America and our OSCE partners have done to promote peace and prevent weapons proliferation, raising the very real risk that advanced technology that will both destabilize the Caucasus and potentially end up in the hands of anti-U.S. countries – from Belarus to North Korea.”
Reports began to surface regarding an impending sale of the Iron Dome anti-missile system to Azerbaijan shortly following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meetings with President Aliyev in December, 2016. Developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with funding and technology from the United States, the system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 2.5 to 43 miles away and whose trajectory would take them to a populated area. In 2014, U.S. defense firm Raytheon won a $149.3 million co-production contract to supply Tamir missiles for the Iron Dome system. Under the terms of the May 3, 2014, U.S.-Israel Iron Dome Procurement Agreement as well as relevant provisions of the Foreign Assistance Act, the Arms Export Control Act, and other U.S. laws, the U.S. has the right to block the third-party transfer of U.S. equipment and information included in the Iron Dome system.