The Spanish government has asked for explanations to Israel for the gift of a drone of spanish manufacture to Russia in strange circumstances.
The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a “verbal note” to the Israeli embassy in Madrid expressing concern that it considers that the fact that Israel has “given away” a drone model “Sniper” of the spanish firm Alpha Unmanned Systems may have breached legislation prohibiting re-export of sensitive technology. And in this particular case, double-track, since Russia is subject to sanctions from the European Union.
The “Sniper” drone, acquired by the Volcani Institute of Tel Aviv to Alpha Unmanned Systems incorporates “sensitive” technology, even with some of its components are of American manufacture, and their export requires the express authorization of the Spanish Government. The Interministerial Board of Trade of Defense Material and Double Use authorized the sale of the two models “Sniper” of Alpha Unmanned Systems in August 2014 but in the export license it was clear that the “end user” was the Volcani Institute, Under the Ministry of Agriculture of Israel. Therefore, the unusual gift of the drone to the Russian Prime Minister would be violating the legislation on technology exports and also violating the blockade of trade with Russia established following the sanctions of the European Union.
In addition, the Spanish Government authorized the export of the two drones to Israel following the commitment signed by the Israeli Government to “not re-export, sell or transfer” to another country. According to sources of the Spanish Ministry of Economy quoted by the newspaper El País, “the prior consent of the Spanish authorities for the re-export of the two Sniper helicopters has not been requested”, which means that neither the manufacturer nor the Government of Israel would have fulfilled their obligations imposed by the export license currently approved by Spain.
This unusual diplomatic incident that reaches still uncertain originated last November 10 when the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was on an official visit to Israel. During his visit to the facilities of the Tel Aviv Volcanic Institute, Medvedev was enthralled by a radio control helicopter manufactured by the Spanish company Alpha Unmanned Systems that the Volcani had recently acquired for € 50,000. So excited was he with the Spanish drone that the Israeli minister of agriculture decided to give it to him. Israeli Minister Uri Ariel thought he was making a kind gesture with the Russian, but the scandal he has organized with this unusual “gift” has caused a major political earthquake in Israel and the indignation and surprise of the Spanish Government and part of the International community, as the drone of the Volcani Institute incorporates technology of great strategic value and has come to accuse the minister of agriculture of jeopardizing Israeli national security and of having violated the international legislation on the export of technology.
Alpha Unmanned Systems chief executive Eric Freeman has stated that his company did not request permission to move the drone to Russia because its intervention was limited to the sale of the drones to the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture but that “it has nothing to See “with the controversial gift and later transfer of the helicopter to Russia.
Alpha Unmanned Systems sold 2 “Sniper” helicopters to Israel in 2015 to be used for research at the Tel Aviv Volcani Institute, one of Israel’s leading agricultural research and development institutions.