According to the Israeli website NEWSru.co.il, Azerbaijan purchases two batteries of the Hetz 3 also known as Arrow-3 anti-ballistic missile system from Israel to protect against Iranian threats.
Iran’s posturing could further cement Baku’s defense ties with Israel. Iran’s official news agency IRNA on October 5 emphasized: “The latest act of sabotage by the occupying government in Jerusalem against our country’s nuclear program is the terrorist attack on the TESA complex in Karaj.”
Earlier, Iran announced on June 23 that it had prevented an attack on the building of a nuclear facility near Karaj, about 50 km from Tehran. The director of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency (AEOI) Mohammad Eslami said the IAEA and Western powers had not condemned the “terrorist act” that “seriously damaged” the facility.
Baku bought more than $5 billion weapons from Tel Aviv before the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan bought Iron Dome and Barak-8 anti-air missiles, Harop Kamikaze drones, Heron MK II drones, Spike LR ATGM and LORA ballistic missiles from Israeli defense companies.
Tensions between the neighbors have flared in recent days after an Azerbaijani assassin allegedly hired by Iran sought to kill wealthy Israeli business people in Cyprus.
According to Israel Hayom newspaper, Azerbaijan’s government began stopping, fining and in at least two cases detaining Iranian vehicles transiting its territory. Tehran accused Azerbaijan of hosting Israeli military forces — a charge Baku denies — and launched a buildup of its own forces on its mutual border with Azerbaijan.
Aerospace Industries, which manufactures the Arrow-3 system, did not immediately comment about the deal with Azerbaijan.
The Arrow-3 is one of three flagship interceptor missiles jointly produced by Israeli and US firms with government support. The joint projects have accelerated in recent years as Iran has advanced its drone, cruise and ballistic missile capabilities.
Israel views the Arrow-3 as a bulwark against the ballistic missiles fielded by Iran and Syria. It is worth noting that Arrow 3 provides exoatmospheric interception of ballistic missiles.
The arrow 3, is considered to be one of the most powerful weapons of its kind in the world, and has been in development for nearly a decade, starting in 2008.
Washington said last week that Iran appeared to have tested a medium-range ballistic missile that flew about 1,000 km (620 miles). Tehran said such tests were for defensive needs.
“Today Israel has the capabilities to act against ballistic missiles launched at us from Iran and from anywhere else,” former Prime Minister Netanyahu said. “All our foes should know that we can best them, both defensively and offensively.”
Israel’s Ministry of Defense said that, as part of the Alaska tests, Arrow-3 was successfully synched up with the AN-TPY2 radar – also known as X-band – which provides the United States with extensive global coverage. Israel hosts an X-band battery.
Azerbaijan has had close diplomatic, economic and defense industry ties with Israel since relations began in 1992.
During Azerbaijan’s war with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region last year, Baku — backed militarily by Turkey — deployed Israel-made drones on the battlefield.
Azerbaijan recently conducted a naval exercise with Turkey in the Caspian Sea, triggering condemnation from Iran’s Foreign Ministry, which said the exercise violated norms barring non-bordering countries from deploying forces to the inland sea.
Israel and Azerbaijan maintain close defense cooperation. According to media reports, Israeli special services are using Azerbaijani territory as a base for operations against Iran.
Official Baku accuses Iran of smuggling goods to Armenia along the route, which was transferred to Azerbaijan during the Second Karabakh War, but is under the control of Russian peacekeepers.
Last week, Iranian armed forces held military exercises near the border with Azerbaijan in the northwest of the country. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that the citizens of the country had fair questions as to why Iran had not previously conducted exercises on the border with Azerbaijan, when a number of territories in Karabakh were under the control of the Armenian armed forces.
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