Iran is fuming with neighboring Azerbaijan over its recently announced deal to purchase arms from Israel.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday summoned the Azeri ambassador to upbraid him over the $1.4 billion military hardware purchase, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi first asked Ambassador Javanshir Akhundov to confirm reports that Azerbaijan, Iran’s northern neighbor, has signed the deal.
When confirmation was forthcoming, Araqchi reportedly slammed the envoy over the deal, and warned him against the use of Azerbaijani territory by the “Zionist regime” for terrorist attacks on Iran.
The ambassador reportedly explained that the equipment purchased from Israel is intended to liberate occupied territory of the Azerbaijan Republic. The arms in question, he said, will not be used against any other country, least of all Iran.
The ambassador did not elaborate, but the “occupied territory” to which he was referring may be the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. According to Azerbaijan and the international community, the enclave is part of Azerbaijan. Since the end of the Azeri-Armenian war in 1994, however, the majority Armenian region has exerted de facto independence with Armenian military support.
Under the terms of the Israel Aerospace Industries deal, announced earlier this week, the Caucasus nation will receive planes, drones and an advanced missile defense system. The shipment of aerial drones will be accompanied by a large team of security and technology consultants, according to Maariv, which cited an Intelligence Online report.
Azerbaijan has recently found itself caught between Israel and Iran as tensions have ramped up between the two. It came under fire from Iran recently amid reports that Israel was trying to set up a Mossad base in its capital, Baku.
Azerbaijan is a secular Muslim country with friendly ties to the US and Israel. It is home to approximately 9,000 Jews and has a total population of approximately 9.5 million people, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Last week, Azeri authorities announced that they had arrested several suspected terrorists with links to Iran and Hezbollah. The men are accused of planning attacks against foreigners in the capital. Azeri state-owned television reported that the suspects had bought explosives, guns and ammunition.