The United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC) informed the U.S. Senate last week that it had an Iron Dome missile defense system tested and ready for use should there be a need.
USASMDC Commander Lt.-Gen. Daniel Karbler confirmed that the U.S. has “two Iron Dome batteries right now,” adding that one was ready to be deployed after having completed new equipment training and fielding.
”The other one is wrapping up its new equipment training right now. So the army does have one [Iron Dome battery] available for deployment if we get a request,” Karbler added.
A spokesperson for the USASMDC later clarified that Karbler was specifically referring to the Iron Dome's readiness for U.S military combat.
U.S. Senator Angus King of Maine reportedly asked why the Iron Dome system had not yet been sent to Ukraine in order to help protect the war-torn nation from Russian missile attacks.
“We helped pay for it. We sent something like $3 billion to Israel to develop it… Wouldn’t this be a very important resource for the Ukrainians since their principal problem right now is missile defense?” King asked the Defense Command.
Assistant Defense Secretary for Space Policy John Plumb responded by saying that the U.S. was providing Ukraine with “things we can supply from our own stock,” such as Patriot missile batteries.
“We made a significant investment in missile defense and encourage our allies to do the same,” he said. “I am not aware of an Iron Dome system being offered to Ukraine.”
The Iron Dome system was developed by an Israeli defense company, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, having been commissioned by the Israeli government.
The air defense system was initially funded by the Israel government, while the U.S. had contributed about $2.6 billion to the Iron Dome development project since it was first deployed in 2011.
The U.S. funding allowed Rafael and U.S.-based company, Raytheon, to produce additional systems, including interception missiles.
The United States, however, due to its contract with Israel, would be required to get permission from Israel to send its Iron Dome system to any other country for deployment, including a nation at war, such as Ukraine.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment on the issue but the Israeli military has consistently remained staunch in its refusal to send such aid to Ukraine, despite repeated calls for assistance from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Ukraine has appealed to Israel to obtain the Iron Dome system to protect itself against Russian missile attacks since last year, although the Jewish state has remained on the sidelines, in an attempt to maintain good relations with Russia. Israel regularly acts against Iranian targets and interests in parts of Syria where Russia largely controls the air space.
On Monday, a senior Ukrainian diplomat condemned a meeting that allegedly took place in Moscow earlier this month that was attended by Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Dir.-Gen. for Strategic Affairs Joshua Zarka.
Zarka reportedly met with Israel’s deputy director-general for the Foreign Ministry’s Euro-Asia division, Simona Halperin and Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergei Ryabkov to discuss the Iranian nuclear threat and diplomacy issues related to the Iran nuclear deal.
The Ukrainian official said the country was “deeply disappointed by the exchange of visits by the Israeli and Russian [Foreign Ministry] officials while Russia is butchering our citizens.”
“We are being attacked by terrorists that are steadily supported by the Russia-Iran alliance, and yet, Israeli officials keep having business as usual with the Russian war criminals,” the official continued. “Israel has to decide if it is a part of the Western world and stands besides Ukraine or whether it embraces the world’s dark forces. Neutrality is not an option.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.