• Kyodo


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday called on Japan to help save the 2015 nuclear deal with practical economic support, welcoming Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s de-escalation initiatives.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes any efforts and diplomatic initiatives of friendly countries, including Japan, for salvaging the nuclear deal and lifting sanctions (against Iran) as well as de-escalation in the region,” Rouhani said in a written reply to questions submitted by Kyodo News.

“Japan can develop its economic and financial ties with Iran in various areas,” he said, referring to what Tokyo could do to help save the deal that Tehran signed with world powers in 2015 to limit its nuclear activities in return for an end to severe economic sanctions.

The Iranian president also stressed maintaining his country’s “good relations” with Japan and welcomed any Japanese initiatives that could promote bilateral economic and financial relations.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled his country out of the nuclear accord in May 2018, calling it “a very bad deal,” and imposed the “heaviest sanctions ever” on Iran, it has become impossible for Tehran to export its oil to traditional customers including Japan.

Welcoming Abe’s de-escalation policies, Rouhani called on the United States to restore the “lost trust” after its withdrawal. Washington’s return to the nuclear deal and a lifting of the “cruel” sanctions are prerequisites for any other move, he said.

“Lifting sanctions and returning to the nuclear deal can create new capacities for continuation of negotiations. If they talk with the Iranian people with the language of respect, then they will receive a response in the same way,” he said.

Rouhani did not reject the possibility of having a meeting with his U.S. counterpart but said such a meeting could take place only if “they can implement past commitments and prove their goodwill.”

The Iranian president hailed Japan’s efforts to de-escalate the tensions between Iran and the United States and said it would be “a right step on the right track” if any efforts can make Washington correct its approach toward Tehran.

Rouhani was in Japan last Friday as the first Iranian leader to visit since Mohammad Khatami in October 2000, as Tehran apparently hopes to deepen bilateral ties amid the persisting Iran-U.S. standoff over the nuclear deal.

Iran is struggling under U.S. sanctions covering oil and other areas that are part of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Increased gasoline prices have sparked widespread protests, adding to the country’s woes.

On the faltering 2015 nuclear deal, Abe told Rouhani that Iran should refrain from taking actions that would undermine it and instead fully abide by it.

Tehran has chipped away at its commitments through breaches such as exceeding the uranium enrichment cap, which came in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the deal and the re-imposition of the sanctions.

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