Israel officials confirm $1.6b. Azeri defense deal

Israeli Aerospace Industries will supply Azerbaijan with unmanned aerial vehicles, missile defense systems.

By JOHN BACKTANE
February 26, 2012 21:50
IAI instructor controls drone

IAI instructor controls drone R 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Israeli officials confirmed on Sunday a deal to sell defense equipment to Azerbaijan to the tune of $1.6 billion.

According to the officials, Israeli Aerospace Industries will supply the formerly soviet country with unmanned aerial vehicles and missile defense systems.

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Azerbaijan, a secular country with a predominantly Muslim population, grew closer to Israel after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Another contributing factor for the strengthening of ties is the deterioration of ties between Israel and Turkey. Both countries share borders with Iran.

Iran has in the past accused Azerbaijan of allowing Israeli spies it suspected of assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists to infiltrate from the Azeri border.

Last week, Azeri authorities announced the arrest of an Iranian terror cell that was planning, according to local reports, to attack the Israeli Embassy in the country as well as a Jewish cultural center.

It is not clear whether the signing of the arms deal is related to these recent events.

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