US Open to "New Arrangement" on Missile Tests

US Open to "New Arrangement" on Missile TestsUS Open to "New Arrangement" on Missile Tests

The US secretary of state suggested on Thursday his country is open to a "new arrangement" with Iran for peacefully resolving disputes such as Tehran's recent ballistic missile tests.

John Kerry was quoted by ABC News as saying that the US and its partners are telling Iran that they are "prepared to work on a new arrangement to find a peaceful solution to these issues", referring to Tehran's missile tests and regional conflicts.

He made the statement at a news conference in Manama followed by a meeting later in the day with the foreign ministers of the six-nation (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council.

Iran launched ballistic missiles during a military exercise last month, drawing western condemnation and prompting calls, especially in the US, for more sanctions.

The US Treasury Department blacklisted two Iranian companies late last month, cutting them off from international finance over links to Tehran's missile program. Washington had imposed similar sanctions on 11 businesses and individuals in January over an October missile test.


  Missile Power Non-Negotiable

Iran insists the tests are solely meant to boost its non-nuclear deterrent power.

"We have repeatedly said that Iran's missile power is non-negotiable and among the country's redlines," the deputy chairman of the General Staff of the Armed Forces said in response to Kerry's remarks.

"We do not seek permission from anyone to boost our defense capabilities," Lieutenant General Masoud Jazayeri was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.

Kerry emphasized Iran's capacity to contribute to peace, citing the Islamic Republic's assistance in securing a truce in Syria between the Iranian-backed government and rebels supported by western and Arab countries. The representatives of the government and the opposition have mostly abided by a UN-sponsored ceasefire agreed between the US and Russia on behalf of the warring sides and enforced as of late February and are holding negotiations aimed at ultimately establishing an inclusive transitional government in about two years.

He called on Iran to "help us end the war in Yemen ... help us end the war in Syria, not intensify, and help us to be able to change the dynamics of this region."

Kerry's visit to Bahrain marked the first by a top US diplomat since 2010. All the Persian Gulf Arab states, except for Oman, are taking part in a Saudi-led coalition that has been battling the Houthi rulers, allegedly aligned with Iran, in Yemen since March last year, in a war which the United Nations says has killed around 6,300 people.

Yemen's warring parties have agreed to observe a UN-brokered ceasefire planned to take effect this weekend which is to be followed by peace negotiations in Kuwait on April 18.