Japan, Iran pledge continued efforts on nuclear issue

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, agreed Sunday that their countries will continue efforts for an early resolution of issues related to Iran’s nuclear program.

Kishida urged Tehran to join the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Additional Protocol, which allows the agency to make snap inspections, Japanese officials said.

Zarif replied that he takes the request seriously, without elaborating, according to the officials.

“I hope Iran will take it positively and make efforts,” Kishida told reporters after the talks in the Iranian capital.

In a joint statement released after the meeting, Japan expressed hope that Iran will seize the opportunity presented by negotiations with major powers to agree to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.

In their talks from Thursday in Geneva, Iran and six countries — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — failed to reach a deal, but both sides noted progress and decided to meet again later this month.

Japan and Iran also agreed to arrange meetings between their senior officials on disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation issues, the statement said.

Japan praised the move under new President Hassan Rouhani to seek an agreement in talks with the world powers and the progress made in Geneva, while Iran said it welcomes Japan’s readiness to make a contribution to this end.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Western countries have long suspected that Iran’s uranium enrichment program is a cover for the development of nuclear weapons.

The two countries also said they are ready to cooperate with the international community in improving the situation in Syria, where a civil war has led to a catastrophic humanitarian situation that needs to be urgently addressed.

Kishida touched also on the North Korean nuclear and missile threats, the officials said, alluding to Tehran’s possible links with Pyongyang.

On bilateral issues, they also agreed on cooperation in protecting the environment in Iran and curbing drug-smuggling from Afghanistan into Iran.