Iran summoned the Azeri ambassador to Iran on Sunday after a Times of London report claimed that the Mossad had sent agents to Baku in order to carry out espionage operations targeting the Islamic Republic, the official Iran state news website reported.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry said Azeri envoy Javanshir Akhundov was summoned "following the movements of the terrorists involved in assassination [sic] of Iranian scientists in Azerbaijan republic [sic]," claiming that Baku had provided the facilities from which Mossad agents operated.
Akhundov assured Iran that he would convey the message to Baku.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry also complained that the small Eurasian country was broadcasting anti-Iranian propaganda in its media, and stopped Iranian trucks traveling through Azerbaijan, according to the report.
Israel has not responded to the Times of London
report, which claimed that the Mossad uses Azerbaijan - a country which shares a border with Iran - as a hub for spy operations.
“This is ground zero for intelligence work," anonymous agent "Shimon" told the Times
. "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.”
According to Shimon, the border with Iran, just hours south of Azerbaijan's capital of Baku is prime territory to gather intelligence about Tehran's activities. "There is a great deal of information there from people who regularly and freely travel across the borders. It is unregulated — almost. Except for the Iranians who are watching us watch them,” he said.
Last month Azeri authorities arrested two men suspected of plotting to attack foreigners, including the Israeli ambassador in Baku and a rabbi.
Azeri authorities said the two suspects had been helped by an Iranian linked to Iran's intelligence services, who supplied them guns and explosives to smuggle from Iran.
Azeri authorities have also said they thwarted a plan by agents of Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia to set off a car bomb near the Israeli embassy four years ago, and a plot targeting the U.S. and British embassies in 2007.Reuters contributed to this report