• Kyodo News


The government said Tuesday it will impose additional sanctions on Iran over its uranium enrichment and other nuclear programs, including a freeze on assets.

The move is in line with a U.N. Security Council resolution against Tehran and signals Japan’s willingness to work closely with the United States and the European Union in taking punitive action.

But some Japanese officials are also concerned that such action could harm trade relations with Iran, a major oil supplier.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan approved a set of additional measures, including a freeze on the assets of 40 organizations and an individual involved in nuclear and missile programs.

First East Export Bank, an affiliate of Iran’s state-owned Bank Mellat, as well as Javad Rahiqi, who heads the Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, were on the government’s list of those subject to the asset freeze.

The new measures include steps to prevent money transfers related to the supply to Iran of large conventional weapons. The government will ban in principle Iranian investments in Japanese firms involved in nuclear technology development, while urging financial institutions to report all suspicious capital transactions concerning Iran.

In addition to the U.N.-backed measures, Japan plans to take independent steps similar to those by the United States and European nations, officials said. Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told a Cabinet meeting he will compile the measures this month at the earliest, they said.

The aggressive stance worries Japanese officials who weigh it against trade relations with Iran.

But Okada said sanctions that don’t have an impact on Japanese companies would probably not be very effective.

Japan’s punitive measures will be “necessary for the country to fulfill its responsibility in the international community” to stop nuclear proliferation and Iran’s nuclear development, he said.

“We have to take concerted action with the United States and European Union. Sanctions can’t be lifted as long as Iran ignores U.N. Security Council resolutions and continues its uranium enrichment to 20 percent purity,” Okada said.

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