WAR OF WORDS OVER ARMS.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 47
For the past several weeks Armenia and Azerbaijan have traded accusations over what each claims have been illegal arms dealings by the other. This latest round of disputes began in mid-February after Russian sources revealed that the Russian military had illegally supplied a number of weapons to Armenia and the ethnic Armenians in Karabakh. (See Monitor, February 18) The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry called the shipments a gross violation of the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. (Interfax, February 21) On March 5, Azerbaijani officials claimed that a total of 72 pieces of heavy military equipment had reached Armenia from Russia via Iran over the past 3 months. In addition, the Russians were accused of supplying weapons to Armenia by air from the North Caucasus. These shipments were said to have included 30 anti-aircraft systems and as many as 1,000 missiles. The Azeris also charged that Armenia possesses nuclear-capable surface-to-air missiles with a range of up to 300 kilometers.
A spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry yesterday denied this last Azeri accusation, saying that Armenia ÒunfortunatelyÓ could not afford to buy such a missile. (Interfax, March 6) The Armenians also countered that Azerbaijan, and not Armenia, is guilty of violating the CFE treaty. According to Yerevan, Azerbaijan has purchased hundreds of tanks and 22 combat aircraft — many of them from Ukraine — over the past several years and is well over its CFE limits in tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and artillery pieces. (Interfax, March 5)
In fact, both countries have been lax in meeting their CFE responsibilities, with Azerbaijan the biggest offender. In its 1996 report to the Congress on treaty compliance, the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) noted that Azerbaijan had not destroyed any weapons by the time the treatyÕs limits entered into force in November 1995 and possessed 738 more treaty-limited items than allowed. Armenia, the report said, was over its declared limits by 33 in one weapons category.
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