In Tokyo, Iran's envoy Zarif lures oil business

Under interim nuclear deal, Japan can now conduct business with Iran; Japan pays $450 for purchase of oil to Central Bank of Iran.

March 5, 2014 22:07
1 minute read.

Iranian FM Zarif addresses Munich Security Conference. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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WASHINGTON – Japan is conducting business with Iran as is permitted under current international sanctions regulations, Japanese officials said on Wednesday, welcoming Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Tokyo.

The Japanese government deposited $450 million for the purchase of oil to the Central Bank of Iran on Wednesday during the foreign minister’s visit. That is Japan’s second major transfer of funds since the interim deal, formally known as the Joint Plan of Action, was agreed upon by world powers and Iran in Geneva last fall.

The deal allowed for the easing of some sanctions, measured at $7 billion by the US government, in exchange for a freeze of much of Iran’s nuclear work. Most sanctions are to be kept in place, the US insists, predicting Iran’s oil sector will bleed $30b. in revenues over the course of the six-month interim deal.

Zarif said he was “very happy to see the foreign minister and the prime minister and the Japanese private sector are ready to engage” with Iran.

“Confidence is mutual, and we need to build this confidence mutually on both sides, by showing that the West is prepared to engage, is prepared to put aside the unreasonable practices that did not produce much of a positive outcome in the past and to engage in a constructive fashion with Iran,” he said.

Japanese officials insisted their actions were in line with permitted behavior as outlined in the interim deal.

“Japan wants to support the economic activities between Japanese companies and Iran within the boundary of the first-step measures,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said.

It remained critical that Iran address all international concerns about possible military dimensions of Tehran’s nuclear program, US representatives in Vienna said on Wednesday.

A “satisfactory resolution of PMD issues will be critical to any long-term comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue” Ambassador Joseph Macmanus, the US envoy to the UN’s nuclear agency, said.

He was addressing a meeting of the 35-nation governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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