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Editorial: Int’l community needs to join together to prevent the collapse of Iran nuclear deal

The U.S. Trump administration has finally reinstated its all sanctions against Iran after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement. The sanctions are relentless in content as they are aimed at restricting Iran’s oil shipping and financial transactions.  


The U.S. invoked the sanctions despite the criticism from Europe, Russia and China, with which it jointly put together the nuclear deal. If Iran plunges into chaos, the impact will not be contained within the Middle East. The international community must work together to get Iran to stay in the deal and prevent the agreement from falling apart.


The Iranian economy has been deteriorating since the U.S. announced plans to reinstate its sanctions. Inside Iran, the currency depreciation and skyrocketing prices are fueling public anger.


Iran’s Rouhani administration has promoted the nuclear deal. But if it gets debilitated and conservative hawkish elements gain momentum, the likelihood of Iran resuming nuclear development may grow. It is feared that the collapse of the nuclear deal may accelerate the nuclear development in the region.


The impact on the oil market is another worrisome factor. Iran is one of the world’s largest oil producing nations. At this moment, supply shortages are not taking place as other oil-producing countries are making up for Iran’s supply declines resulting from the sanctions by increasing their oil production.


The U.S. exempts several countries and regions from the sanctions, but it upholds the stance of seeking to ban all oil imports in the future. The global economy may take a devastating hit if the oil embargo prolongs.


Foreign firms operating in the U.S. may become subject to penalties if they continue to import Iranian oil. They may have fewer options in their payment transactions. They have little choice but to lean to suspend oil imports from Iran.


But Iran makes its oil exports and continuation of trade a condition to stay in the nuclear pact. The European Union has introduced a system that allows EU firms to file a suit if they suffer damage from the U.S. sanctions, but this is not sufficient to prevent them from being impacted.


In September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the U.S. on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly and conveyed to him that Japan will cooperate with Iran in maintaining the nuclear agreement. Japan should also ally with Europe to work out an effective tool for trade continuation.


It appears that the U.S. plans to press Iran to accept a more comprehensive deal, which includes the suspension of not only nuclear development but also its ballistic missile program, by ratcheting up pressure.


It is important to improve a flawed deal into a better one. But the unilateral pressure that is short of international understanding will only lead to escalate regional tensions and deepen the U.S. isolation.


Japan, an ally of the U.S., should clearly tell it about its concerns. At the same time, it needs to explore room for deal revisions with Iran to urge the U.S. to return to the nuclear agreement.

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