Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan urged all countries to suspend exports of military technology to Turkey after defence officials said they found high-tech Canadian components on a downed Turkish drone.
Armenian officials say the Bayraktar TB2 surveillance and attack drone was equipped with a camera and targeting acquisition system manufactured by L3 Harris WESCAM, located in Burlington, Ontario, Radio Canada International reported on Tuesday.
The WESCAM CMX-15D system was produced in June and fitted on the drone in September, according to Shushan Stepanyan, spokesperson for the Armenian Defence Ministry. The device, used for guiding missiles and bombs, had operated for a total of 31 hours, he said.
Canada has barred the export of the defence technology to Turkey and other countries should follow its lead, Pashinyan said. A Canadian investigation into the use of its technology in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is ongoing, Radio Canada International said.
The Turkish and Azeri embassies in Canada did not immediately respond to Radio Canada International’s request for comment. Turkish ambassador to Canada Kerim Uras refused to confirm or deny the use of Turkish drones in Azerbaijan in an interview with CBC News Network on Oct. 6, it said.
Pashinyan said Armenian forces had shot down about a dozen Bayraktar TB2 drones but this was the first they were able to recover.
“This fact proves Turkey’s direct involvement in the terrorist war against Artsakh and the preparations for it,” Pashinyan said on Tuesday, referring to the Armenian name of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Based on this fact, the countries that supply the necessary components for ‘Bayraktars’ to Turkey should follow the example of Canada and suspend further supplies.”
Diverting the drone technology to Azerbaijan without getting Canada’s permission is illegal, said Kelsey Gallagher, a researcher with disarmament group Project Ploughshares. When a Canadian weapons system is exported, approval must first be gained from Global Affairs Canada, he said.
The export permit must state the intended recipient of the system and the specific purpose it would be used for, Gallagher said.
Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said he was very firm about the use of the technology with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu during a European tour last week.
“I think in my discussion with the foreign minister of Turkey I was very clear about the legal framework that exists in Canada when it comes to the export control regime, that Canada was party to the Arms Trade Treaty, that human rights are a core component under our legislation and I would abide by the spirit and the letter of the law,” Champagne told reporters on Friday.
While Champagne maintained “we’re talking about a few cameras”, Gallagher said the WESCAM systems were far more than that.
“Without these sensors Turkey would not be able to conduct modern air strikes as we know them,” Gallagher said. “And any military that receives Turkish drones without these sensors would likewise not be able to conduct modern airstrikes as we know them.”
Canada’s Armenian community also took issue with Champagne’s remarks.
“We’re not talking about a few cameras. We’re talking about Armenian blood on Canadian hands,” the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) said, according to Radio Canada International.