Israel, Azerbaijan sign $1.6 Billion Arms Deal

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IAI/ELta Green Pine radar. Photo: IAI
IAI/ELta Green Pine radar. Photo: IAI

The contract was announced in January 2012 by Israel Aerospace Industries, without disclosing the identity of the customer. According to reports published in the foreign press, the arms package included in the two contracts include the Green Pine missile defense radar, which also provides the main sensor for the Israeli Arrow missile defense system, various air defense radars and missile systems, as well as ship-launched missiles, supporting the small Azeri Caspian Navy vessels which consists mostly with fast patrol boats, with more powerful firepower.

Azerbaijan, a Muslim country that became independent with the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Azerbaijan populated mostly by Shiite Muslims, shares land and sea borders with Iran.

According to foreign sources, the warming of relations between Israel and Azerbaijan follow mutual political and commercial interests between the two countries, and particularly by their mutual concern of the rising threat of Iran, and Tehran’s thrust to achieve nuclear weapon capability. Israel’s relations with Azerbaijan have grown as its once-strong strategic relationship with another Iranian neighbor, Turkey, has deteriorated.

Iran accused Israeli Mossad agents to have assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists and are thought to have retaliated against Israeli targets in Azerbaijan in the past. In February 2012 Azeri authorities foiled what is said to be an Iranian-sponsored attacks against Israeli targets in Azerbaijan. In 2008, Azeri officials said they thwarted a plot to explode car bombs near the Israeli Embassy. A year earlier, Azerbaijan convicted 15 people in connection with an alleged Iranian-linked spy network accused of passing intelligence on Western and Israeli activities.