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Iran threatens to retaliate after Bahrain orders diplomat to leave

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Bahrain says the embassy official is linked to a Kuwaiti spy ring
  • A few weeks ago, Kuwait also expelled three Iranian diplomats
  • Relations between Bahrain and Iran have been tense
  • Manama claims Tehran is interfering in its internal affairs

(CNN) -- Iran threatened a tit-for-tat response Tuesday after Bahrain declared an Iranian embassy official in Manama persona non grata and gave him 72 hours to leave the country.

On Monday, Bahrain ordered Hujatullah Rahmani, the second secretary in the Iranian embassy, to leave because of his alleged links to a Kuwaiti spy ring, the Bahrain News Agency said.

Bahrain also said Iran should stop its "irresponsible behavior" and not interfere in the country's internal affairs, the news agency said.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast responded Tuesday, saying Bahrain's actions are "not based on realities."

The spokesman said Iran reserved the right to take retaliatory measures against Bahrain, Iran's state-run Press TV said.

Relations between the two countries have been tense in recent months as Bahrain contends with an anti-government movement that it said is being fueled by Tehran.

Young members of the country's Shiite Muslim majority have staged protests to complain about discrimination, unemployment and corruption -- issues they say the country's Sunni rulers have done little to address.

In a confidential report to the United Nations this week, Bahrain said the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah has been training opposition figures at its camps in Lebanon and Iran in an effort to destabilize the country's ruling family.

Both Iran and Hezbollah have previously denied involvement.

At the same time, Iran is also ensnared in a diplomatic tiff with Kuwait about the alleged spy ring.

A few weeks ago, Kuwait expelled three Iranian diplomats, claiming they were linked to a spy network operating out of the Iranian embassy in Kuwait City.

Kuwait claimed the alleged network aimed at gathering information about U.S. military facilities in Kuwait, according to a Press TV report.

Iran retaliated by expelling three Kuwait diplomats.

It also denied their diplomats were involved in spying, suggesting it was a U.S. plot intended to gain support for "the current crackdown on popular movements in the region," Press TV said.

The United States has operated military bases in Kuwait since American troops arrived there in 1991 in the battle to drive Saddam Hussein's invading Iraqi troops from the region.

CNN's Jenifer Fenton contributed to this report.