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Monday, February 01, 2010

Japan trying to mediate Iran nuclear deal

Politico's Laura Rozen reports on the increasingly important role being played by Japan, which is currently a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, in trying to convince Iran to reach a compromise on sending its low enriched uranium abroad.
Washington Japan hands said a recent effort by Japan to invite Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani to Tokyo to discuss a possible nuclear fuel swap deal had been less than promising, while Iran experts said Japan had briefed the Obama administration earlier this month on a possible uranium fuel swap plan that resulted from their consultations with the Iranians.

Under the alleged compromise fuel swap deal that Japanese diplomats quietly briefed U.S. officials on earlier this month, some 70% of Iran’s low enriched uranium stockpile would be moved to Japan, according to what one Washington source, speaking anonymously, was told by the Japanese. Japan would then take responsibility for the stockpile, and ensure the delivery to Iran of fuel rods for nuclear medical use.

Japanese diplomats were said to consult several U.S. officials of the possible plan in Washington around January 15th, including a deputy to undersecretary of state Bill Burns, who was headed to New York for a January 16th meeting of the P5+1 group on Iran. The deal was described as having met a key western demand that Iran was previously said to reject: that 70% of Iran’s LEU stockpile would be moved out of the country in one batch. U.S. officials did not provide comment for the article.

But a Washington Japan hand said Japanese-Iranian consultations on a possible uranium fuel swap deal this month had been less productive, and that the Japanese Foreign Minister had made public comments this month indicating Japan might be willing to go along with the international community should it decide to impose further economic sanctions on Iran.

So hinted a senior U.S. administration official when, in a background briefing Friday on the Taiwan arms deal, he was asked whether the Obama administration expected the arms sale to further reduce chances that China would go along with a new, fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran.

“The diplomacy surrounding the overall strategy with Iran extends beyond the P5+1,” the senior administration official told journalists in a background briefing Friday. “In recent high-level meetings with other key Asian countries, the Secretary [of State Hillary Clinton] and others have underscored – for instance, Japan and others – that the next step will involve a more comprehensive set of stakes, taking affirmative actions, and that we are looking to support from key states like Japan in this process.”

Getting at least one of the leading Asian powers, China or Japan, on board the international sanctions push was described as a key goal of the Obama administration to help legitimate any further economic sanctions and to make them more effective, a Washington Asia expert said. But Japan's support for such measures is not yet a sure thing, and the Obama administration would see failure to get both China and Japan on board any further Iran sanctions push as a disaster, the Japan expert said.
I'm betting that these discussions will be rendered moot on February 11, when Iran announces that it has enriched uranium to the 20% level. But even if that does not happen, cutting a deal with Iran now would be a mistake.

Iran has shown time and time again that it is willing to hide its nuclear developments from the international community. It is a danger to its own people, to its neighbors and to countries further afield. It ought to be clear to everyone that Iran's intentions are not benevolent, and the world community needs to start dealing with Iran accordingly. It may already be too late.

The picture at the top is Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Larjani.

Read the whole thing.


At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remind me not to feel even a milligram of pity the next time Japan commemorates the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger philip.zhao said...

That's why the Tokyo Mayor referred to the earthquake and tsunami as the DAMNATION !


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