An Israeli option: F-16i
An Israeli option: F-16iIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Azeri president Ilham Aliyev dismissed speculation on Thursday that Israel would use four abandoned bases in his country to launch strikes on Iran's nuclear program.

"Azerbaijan's territory will never be used to launch an attack against its neighbor, Iran," Aliyev's office said in a statement.

U.S. officials say they believe Israel may use the site as a springboard for an attack on Iran's nuclear plants, or as a landing and refueling spot following one.

The site could also be used for aircraft needed for search, rescue and recovery in the wake of an attack.

“We're watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it,” an official told the Foreign Policy writer.

Israel has a $1.6 billion deal with Azerbaijan to provide some 60 state-of-the-art UAVs and is Baku's second largest consumer of exportable crude oil.

“The Israelis have bought an airfield,” another U.S. official told the journalist, “and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.”

Azerbaijan is one of the few majority Muslim countries to develop bilateral strategic and economic relations with Israel.