Seeks Public State Department Review of Potentially Illegal Use of U.S. Parts in a 2017 Israeli Drone Attack Ordered by Azerbaijan against Artsakh
WASHINGTON—The Armenian National Committee of America called on the U.S. Department of State this week to officially investigate the potentially illegal use of U.S. defense equipment in a 2017 Israeli drone attack by the Azerbaijani military against the Artsakh Republic.
In a letter to Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Tina Kaidanow, the ANCA requested an open inquiry into “potential U.S. arms export violations in connection with the Israeli government’s legal action against Aeronautics Defense Systems, an arms manufacturer accused of illegally launching a 2017 Orbiter 1K armed drone attack, in coordination with the Azerbaijani military, against Artsakh.” The attack reportedly took place in July, 2017, when the firm was demonstrating their Orbiter 1 drone to Azerbaijani military officials, and was asked to live test its capabilities on Artsakh positions. While the drones did not hit their targets, Army Colonel Armen Gyozalian confirmed to Israeli news outlets that two soldiers were lightly wounded in the incident.
This issue has been the subject of considerable media attention, including an August 29, 2018, article by Radio Free Europe: “Israel Accuses Drone Maker of Bombing Armenian Soldiers, at Baku’s Request.” According to this account, the Israeli government, having previously suspended Aeronautics Defense Systems’ export license over this attack, now plans to indict the company’s CEO and other senior officials.
The ANCA highlighted the troubling “prospect that Aeronautics Defense Systems armed drones and other defense systems deployed by Azerbaijan against both Artsakh and Armenia may – in contravention of U.S. law and Administration policy – contain U.S. components or technology subject to the U.S. Arms Export Control Act and other legal restrictions governing the third-party sale or transfer of U.S. defense and dual-use articles, technology, or services.” The letter noted a specific area of ANCA concern, notably: “the possible use of transistors, electrical components, and other equipment and technology,” in the Orbiter 1K armed drone.
“Violations of U.S. law in connection to this specific assault and the broader pattern of Azerbaijani aggression against Armenia and Artsakh undermine U.S. interests in promoting regional stability, deterring a renewed outbreak of regional war, and preventing proliferation, including through potential Azerbaijani third-party sale or transfer of sensitive U.S. equipment, software or technology to Russia, Iran, or other problem end-users,” concluded the ANCA.
In February 2017, the ANCA raised similar concerns regarding reports of a pending third-party transfer of sensitive U.S. equipment and technology as part of an Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system sale to Azerbaijan.