The president of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, recently threatened to unleash short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) against vibrant Azerbaijani cities, such as its capital Baku, thus turning these civilian targets, with millions of residents, into ruins. Just like what Mr. Sargsyan and his Armenian army did in 1993 to the Azerbaijani city of Aghdam and others.
In fact, these were his exact words, as reported and translated by ArmenPress, the Armenian state news agency: "the Azerbaijani leadership is well aware of the capacities and abilities of the Armenian Armed Forces. They are well aware that we have ballistic rockets, the radius of action of which exceeds 300 km and which, in a very short period of time, can turn any flourishing region into ruins, like the ruins of Agdam now."
1) threatens its neighboring country, Azerbaijan, with even greater aggression against its sovereignty and territorial integrity - on top of the continuing illegal military occupation of 16% of Azerbaijan for the past 20 years and ethnic cleansing of 800,000 Azerbaijanis;
2) takes pride in previously destroying the city of Agdam, with population of 153,000 whose residents were all ethnically Azerbaijani, in 1993, making it a ghost town, and
3) circumventing the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC), by acquiring and using ballistic missiles with a range of over 300 kilometers.
Why is the Congress silent? Why is the White House silent? Why are the State Department and the Pentagon silent? Is this not an outrage that a head of state, whose human rights record is non-existent and whose elections and legitimacy have always been questioned by all inside the country and abroad, is threatening to destroy large civilian targets in the same way he already did - all using a regulated technology that was never supposed to have fallen into his hands? Was the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 downing by Russian-backed separatists using sophisticated missile technology not too recent of a wake up call? Do we need more tragedies? Because Sargsyan, and his defense minister, have been on the record multiple times boasting about targeting Azerbaijani civilians.
Armenia and Sargsyan have made a laughing stock out of the MTCR and the HCOC by illegally receiving SCUD-B and potentially Iskander-M (SS-26 Stone) short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) from Russia, an MTCR signatory. Armenia has also failed to abide by the HCOC, to which it is a signatory, which requires providing pre-launch notifications (PLNs) on its ballistic missiles, and to submit an annual declaration (AD) of their country's policies on ballistic missiles. Where is the Department of State's Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation looking? What about the DoD? Why is Congress providing millions in FMF and IMET military and security aid to Armenia despite such ongoing violations? This is on top of a multitude of previous violations of the U.S. and international laws by Armenia.
It is crucial to exert pressure on Russia to stop such deliveries and servicing of ballistic missiles and their launchers to such a regime, and on Armenia to give up such weapons or face ban on all military and security assistance as well as sanctions from the U.S. and the rest of the world. This is serious, we should not ignore the clear threat of MTCR and HCOC circumvention by Armenia and its criminal government. They have done enough harm, are hurting regional peace and development, and breed more problems, such as what recently happened between Ukraine and Russia.
Jaffe is the U.S. Azeris Network's military analyst.