National / Politics

Japan hopes to mediate between U.S. and Iran to rescue 2015 nuclear deal

JIJI

The Japanese government hopes to mediate between the United States and Iran in an effort to rescue a landmark 2015 international nuclear deal, officials have said.

“We note that Iran denies it is withdrawing from the nuclear deal,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura told a news conference Thursday after Tehran announced the suspension of some of its commitments under the 2015 agreement.

“We intend to contribute to regional peace and stability, utilizing our traditional friendly relations with Iran,” Nishimura added.

Tokyo has consistently supported the deal that terminated sanctions by the United States and Europe against Iran in exchange for restrictions on the Middle Eastern country’s nuclear development activities.

When the U.S. government decided in May last year to withdraw from the accord, Japan acted in concert with European countries and said that it would be extremely regrettable if the decision had a significant impact on the maintenance of the deal.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order imposing fresh sanctions to prohibit trade in metals, mainly steel, with Iran. Some Japanese officials say Tokyo should urge Washington to exercise restraint.

Amid heightened military tensions marked by the dispatch of a U.S. carrier strike group to the Middle East, Tokyo is seeking ways to facilitate talks between Iran and the United States.

“Both sides are seeking dialogue,” a Foreign Ministry source said. “There’s a limit, but there’s also a role Japan can play.”