Kuwait expels Iranian diplomats over spy 'terror' cell

Kuwaiti state news agency, KUNA, cited members of the Foreign Ministry saying they will close cultural and military missions and have also chose to pause any cooperative ventures involving joint committees for the foreseeable future.

The new diplomatic arrangement will "preserve Kuwaiti rights", Mohammed Abdullah al-Mubarak al-Sabah, Kuwait's minister of state for cabinet affairs, said in a statement.

The move came after Kuwait convicted a group of men, one Iranian and the rest Kuwaiti, of "spying for Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group" previous year.

"Under the pressure of Saudi interventionist policies, and the baseless accusation of Iranian interference..."

Kuwait shut down Iranian cultural mission and ordered 15 Iranian diplomats to leave the country.

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Kuwait has asked the Iranian foreign ministry to reduce its diplomatic presence in the country within 45 days.

Kuwaiti judiciary had earlier charged 25 of its Shia nationals and an Iranian with spying for Tehran and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.

Some of the suspects in the Abdali case who were acquitted on appeal but re-convicted by Kuwait's Supreme Court last month are on the run and have allegedly escaped to Iran. He declined to comment on whether the Iranian ambassador, Alireza Enayati, was among them.

Tehran's alleged ties with a "terrorist group" plotting attacks against the Persian Gulf state, Arab media outlets reported. Last year, when Riyadh severed ties with Tehran, Kuwait city maintained diplomatic relations with Iran but only at the level of a chargé d'affaires. They were tried and convicted after guns and explosives were discovered in a raid.

Analysts have warned the crisis could break apart the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, whose members are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The leader of the cell was handed life in prison sentence while 20 others received various prison terms.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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