TOKYO – Japan urged Iran on Tuesday to stick to a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, expressing its strong concern over Tehran’s recent decision not to adhere to its limits.
“Iran’s latest announcement is disappointing and leaves us strongly concerned,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a regular press conference in Tokyo.
“We ask Iran to return to (observing) its commitments under the agreement immediately and cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (that carries out inspections),” Suga said.
His remarks came after Iran said Sunday it is no longer abiding by uranium enrichment limitations under the 2015 agreement, which has been at the heart of rising tensions between Tehran and Washington.
Japan, which is not a member of the accord, has consistently supported the deal in the hope of bringing stability to the Middle East.
Iran has been reeling from economy-crippling sanctions reinstated following the 2018 U.S. withdrawal from the accord. The agreement was designed to reduce Iran’s nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions against the Middle East country.
Stability in the Middle East is vital for Japan, which gets most of its crude oil imports from the region. Tensions have spiked in recent days since the U.S. killing of a top Iranian commander in an airstrike. Tehran has vowed to retaliate.
Suga revealed during the press conference that Japan was not notified by the United States of the strike beforehand.
Japan has been seeking to leverage its good relations with the United States and Iran to promote dialogue. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked all parties involved to exercise restraint and stressed the importance of diplomacy to prevent the situation from escalating.
Despite the heightened tensions, Japan will go ahead with its plan to send Self-Defense Forces personnel to the Middle East, Defense Minister Taro Kono said at a separate press conference on Tuesday.
Japan has decided to deploy a destroyer and patrol planes to areas, excluding the Strait of Hormuz near Iran, to ensure the safe navigation of Japan-related commercial ships in the Middle East. It will not join a U.S.-led maritime security initiative near the strait, a key waterway for crude oil shipments.