Kazakh Defense Minister Adilbek Dzhaksbekov and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon sign an agreement promoting defense trade and cooperation. (Israel Ministry of Defense)
TEL AVIV — Defense ministers from Israel and Kazakhstan inked a security cooperation accord Jan. 20 formalizing military and defense industrial ties between the two nations.
The bilateral agreement, signed in Tel Aviv by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and his Kazakh counterpart, Adilbek Dzhaksbekov, provides a general “umbrella” for cultivating defense trade and future cooperation between the two governments, an Israeli defense official here said.
Since Israel and Kazakhstan established diplomatic ties in 1992, the two countries have signed multiple cooperation accords involving telecommunications, science and technology, and other dual-use sectors.
The Jan. 20 accord formalizes more than a decade of Israeli arms sales to the largely Sunni Muslim, Central Asian republic. Corruption charges stemming from the 2004 sale of Israeli artillery systems forced Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarabayev, in June 2009, to sack the nation’s defense minister and other senior government officials.
Soltam Systems, the Israeli prime contractor at the time, has since been acquired by Elbit Systems and executives and agents implicated in the Kazakh scandal are no longer representing the company, industry sources here said.
“We appreciate Kazakhstan, a country with a desire to strengthen cooperation with us,” said Ya’alon.
Ya’alon did not publicly address specific areas for expanded cooperation, but Israeli government and industry officials cited unmanned systems, border security, command-and-control capabilities and satellite communications as leading sectors of interest to Astana.
This week’s visit marks Dzhaksbekov’s first trip to Israel. The Kazakh defense minister and members of his delegation will spend the next two days meeting with senior executives of leading Israeli defense firms and program officials.
“Israel is known worldwide for its capabilities,” Dzhaksbekov said. “I hope this visit will mark a milestone for strengthened defense cooperation between our countries.” ■