The Azerbaijan government has strongly denied accusations by Iran that it is cooperating with Israeli intelligence to murder Iranian nuclear scientists.
On Sunday Iran summoned the Azeri ambassador to deliver a formal protest.
Iran’s IRNA news agency said Tehran’s letter of protest asked the Azeri government to stop the activities of the Mossad intelligence services in that country against Iran.”
The Foreign Ministry in Baku described Iran’s claims as slander and insisted that Azerbaijan will not permit any external interference or any terrorist activity on its territory.
Ministry spokesman Elman Abdullayev said Iran’s accusations represented as absurd reaction to Azerbaijan's recent protests over an alleged plot by Iranian agents to kill Israelis in Azerbaijan.
The killings of at least four Iranian scientific officials over the past two years have sparked speculation and rumors about who was responsible for the killings. Given the threat that a nuclear Iran would pose to Israel, the Jewish state is a prominent suspect.
In the latest assassination last month, Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was killed by a car bomb just outside Teheran.
Iran has repeatedly blamed Israel and the U.S. for these deaths. While Washington has categorically denied involvement, Israel has remained silent on the matter, thereby inviting more suspicion.
The French newspaper Le Figaro reported that Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, has recruited Iranian dissidents, including Kurds, to do its dirty work within Iran’s borders.
Now, Iran has drawn its northwestern neighbor Azerbaijan into the maelstrom of conspiracy.
Although it is a Muslim nation, the former Soviet republic has had friendly relations with both the U.S. and Israel.
In contrast, relations between Iran and Azerbaijan have been difficult over a number of issues, among other things, the Azeri president’s support of Western economic sanctions on Iran. In addition, a large Azeri minority population lives in northwestern Iran.