Iran's state-run news agency said the country's foreign ministry has summoned Azerbaijan's ambassador to protest alleged Israeli intelligence activity in the oil-rich Caucasian state.
The Sunday report by IRNA says that the ministry handed a protest note to Azeri envoy Javanshir Akhundov and demanded that his government prevent Mossad from using its territory to launch operations against Iran.
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The report said "terrorists" linked to the killings of Iranian nuclear scientists escaped to Israel through Azerbaijan.
"Following the movements of the terrorists involved in (the) assassination of Iranian scientists in Azerbaijan and the facilities provided to them to go to Tel Aviv in collaboration with Mossad spy networks, Azeri Ambassador to Iran Javanshir Akhundov was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to hear the protest of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Azeri government," Tehran said in a statement.
According to the report, the Foreign Ministry's director general for the Commonwealth of Independent States and Caucasus delivered a letter of protest calling on the Azeri government to halt anti-Iran operations of "Mossad spy networks" in Azeri territory.
Iran's protest came on the heels of a London Times interview with a man claiming to be an Azerbaijan-based agent of Mossad who confirmed the Israeli intelligence agency has a base in the Caucasian country.
The man, identified in the article as "Shimon," told the British paper that there were dozens of Israeli Mossad agents working out of the base.
"(Baku) is ground zero for intelligence work," he said. "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."
Arastun Orujlu, a former Azeri counter-intelligence officer and director of the Baku East-West Research Center compared the area to "Norway during WWI or Casablanca during WW2 — it is at the centre of the espionage world."
Orujlu believes that there are "only a few Mossad agents working there… but they operate in a more effective way," than the Iranian intelligence agents, who he said number in the thousands.
"The Iranians act in the open, they want everyone to know that they are here. The Israelis are more subtle, like the Americans. But in the end everyone knows they are here too."
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