• Kyodo News


The government plans to compile punitive measures against Iran over its nuclear ambitions in early August, following the adoption of a resolution by the U.N. Security Council in June to impose new sanctions on Tehran, government sources said.

The move is aimed at signaling Tokyo’s willingness to work in step with the United States, as Washington has enacted tough sanctions against Tehran over its uranium enrichment program that Western nations view as a cover for the production of nuclear weapons.

But one of the sources said the government should avoid worsening its ties with Iran because it is one of Japan’s major suppliers of crude oil.

“We should avoid a situation where we would have trouble obtaining crude oil” from the country, the source said.

A Japanese-Iranian diplomatic source said the issue could prove a dilemma for Tokyo. “If Japan leans toward the United States, it could adversely affect its strategy in energy procurement. If Japan leans toward Iran, it could cause a chasm in ties between Tokyo and Washington.”

“This is a problem that could have repercussions on corporations and individuals in Japan,” Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said at a news conference Friday. “We will unveil (the punitive measures after) examining the matter comprehensively.”

Under sanctions enacted by the United States in early July, foreign companies that export petroleum products to Iran would be expelled from U.S. financial markets.

A source in a government office concerned with economic affairs, meanwhile, advised against taking a similar stance.

“Iran is an important trading partner (for Japan). We cannot take a tough stance like the United States, which has severed diplomatic ties” with Tehran, the source said.

A senior Foreign Ministry official suggested that the ministry will look to the European Union’s response as a guide.

As possible punitive measures, the government is believed to be considering financial sanctions against individuals and groups involved in Iran’s nuclear program, according to observers.

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