Iran Warns Azerbaijan Over Arms Purchase from Israel
Iran challenged Azerbaijan on Tuesday over $1.5 billion in arms it said were purchased from Israel, AFP reported, citing Iranian state media.
According to the report, Azerbaijan's ambassador to Tehran was called in to the foreign ministry to explain the weapons and to receive a warning that Israel must not be permitted to use Azerbaijan to stage “terrorist acts” against Iran.
AFP cited Iranian news agencies as having reported that Ambassador Javanshir Akhundov acknowledged the arms purchase after getting confirmation from his government.
He reportedly explained that the weapons were bought “to liberate occupied Azerbaijani land,” but did not elaborate what that meant.
The Iranian agencies quoted Akhundov as having assured Iran that Baku “will not allow the weapons to be used against third nations, in particular the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
The reports come a week after authorities in Azerbaijan arrested a terrorist cell whose members belonged to the Hizbullah terror group and held Iranian passports.
The members of the terror cell were arrested on suspicion of planning to carry out a terrorist attack in Azerbaijan, but no details were provided on whether the terrorists specifically targeted Israeli civilians.
In January, Azerbaijan officials said they uncovered an Iranian-linked Muslim gang that plotted to assassinate Chabad rabbis who teach at the Chabad Jewish school in Baku.
It was later reported that the terrorists who were arrested were planning an attack against the Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Michael Lotem.
Earlier this month, the Iranian Foreign Ministry called in the Azerbaijani ambassador to protest Baku's alleged cooperation with Israel's Mossad.
The meeting was apparently inspired by a report in the London Times that Mossad agents were using Azerbaijan as a “hub” from which to conduct operations and spy on Iran. The report quoted an anonymous alleged agent who called himself “Shimon,” who said that Azerbaijan was “ground zero for Israeli intelligence work. Our presence here is quiet, but substantial. We have increased our presence in the past year, and it gets us very close to Iran. This is a wonderfully porous country.”