Archive for the 'Iran-Japan Relations' Category

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“UN sanctions passed without unanimity for first time”

The UN Security Council passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran with 12 votes in favor, 2 against by Turkey and Brazil, and 1 abstention by Lebanon. No UNSC member had voted against any of the previous 3 sanctions. The US called the sanctions the “toughest” imposed on Iran, but Iranian leaders said their nuclear program would continue (Christian Science Monitor). AFP lists the new Iranian entities and individuals targeted by the sanctions (AFP).
Despite US claims of a diplomatic victory, analysts are calling the sanctions “remarkably weak” (Race for Iran) and “ineffective (Foreign Policy), and James M. Lindsay argues that division within the UNSC makes tougher sanctions in the future unlikely (Council on Foreign Relations).

“US, Iran avoid rejecting nuclear fuel swap deal”
Despite earlier warnings that new UN sanctions would derail talks on the proposed nuclear fuel swap, Iran has indicated would continue its cooperation with Turkey and Brazil (Today’s Zaman). Unnamed diplomats had previously stated that the Vienna Group (US, Russia and France) had rejected the fuel swap proposal (AP), but US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reports the US is prepared to meet with Iran to discuss the Iran-Turkey-Brazil agreement (Today’s Zaman).

“Iran sidesteps sanctions with shell companies, key alliances”
Jo Becker outlines some of Iran’s tactics for circumventing sanctions by using networks of shell companies (New York Times). Thomas Erdbrink and Colum Lynch write that Iran has also succeeded in building alliances with states such as Turkey, Brazil, India and Japan, though Karim Sadjadpour argues that these states will not jeopardize their relationship with the US for Iran (Washington Post).
The US has appointed a new Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control to oversee the implementation of all UN sanctions against Iran and North Korea (US Department of State).

“Iran threatens to downgrade relations with IAEA”
As the IAEA convened a quarterly Board of Governors meeting with Iran on the agenda, Iran’s parliament announced it will draft a bill to reduce relations with the agency (The National). IAEA head Yukiya Amano recently described Iran as a “special case” for the agency (AFP).
Mark Hibbs outlines the agenda of the Board of Governors meeting (Carnegie Endowment).

“Iran one year after Ahmadinejad’s reelection”
Foreign Policy magazine provides special coverage on Iran one year after the controversial reelection of President Ahmadinejad. A series of articles assesses the Western media’s coverage of Iran’s domestic politics and the significance of the Green Movement (Foreign Policy). Meanwhile, Abbas Milani, Gary Sick, Karim Sadjadpour and Steve Inskeep discuss the impact of last year’s elections (Carnegie Endowment).
Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the elections, but opposition leaders Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have called off planned protests due to safety concerns (New York Times).
Trita Parsi argues that international pressure on Iran is helping the government sideline the domestic opposition (Bloomberg).

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Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
The secret history: the C-802 cruise missile (DC Bureau)
Joseph Trento details how Iran obtained C-802 anti-ship missiles from China (Part 1) and how the CIA failed to detect French and Israeli involvement in secret arms sales to Iran starting in 1988 (Part II).
Iran announced that it was producing a new short-range cruise missile called the Nasr-1 (Al Jazeera) and reported that it had successfully test-fired its surface-to-surface Nour missile (Xinhua).

“US facing difficulties in enforcing own sanctions against Iran”
The New York Times reports that over the past decade, the US has granted over $107 billion in contracts and other benefits to companies engaged in business with Iran despite sanctions (New York Times). US lawmakers responded by pushing for harsher sanctions (AFP). The Associated Press earlier reported that “sloppy” US government records were making it difficult to enforce restrictions on exports to Iran (Associated Press).

“US shifting gears on sanctions, support for Green Movement”
Howard LaFranchi writes that in the face of difficulties in gathering international support for strong UN sanctions, the US is shifting its focus to unilateral sanctions, which are moving forward with more momentum (Christian Science Monitor).
Paul Richter suggests another shift in US policy, writing that Washington is looking toward supporting the Green Movement while focusing on sanctions targeting the Revolutionary Guards (Los Angeles Times).
The US will extend its current sanctions under an executive order declaring a national emergency on Iran (Global Security Newswire).

“Israeli leaders may favor supporting Green Movement over military option”
Charles Levinson believes Israel’s leaders may be tilting toward supporting Iran’s opposition Green Movement instead of launching a military strike (Wall Street Journal). Meanwhile, Israel’s UN ambassador Gabriela Shalev stated that the world was heading toward the “two bad options” of either an Iranian nuclear weapon or the use of force to stop Iran’s nuclear program (AFP, Associated Press).

“Can Japan preside over UNSC sanctions?” (Yomiuri Shimbun)
With Japan scheduled to assume the presidency of the UNSC in April, the Yomiuri Shimbun argues that Japan, despite being dependent on Iran for over 10% of its crude oil, must side with the West and engage China to implement additional sanctions against Iran.

“Tokyo enrichment proposal goes public during Larijani visit”

“Tokyo enrichment proposal goes public during Larijani visit”
February 24-26, 2010
     With Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani visiting Tokyo, the Nikkei business daily reported on Japan’s proposal to conduct uranium enrichment on Japanese soil. The proposal was made with US approval to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in December, and Larijani has indicated Tehran will study the deal. The Japanese government has neither confirmed nor denied the report, which does not cite sources (Nikkei, AFP). Nikkei also reports that US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg is scheduled to meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in Tokyo on March 4 to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue (Nikkei).
     Iran also allowed Japanese media to tour its Isfahan plant, an unusual move likely aimed at gaining Japanese support for its nuclear program (Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan Times).
Nikkei (Feb. 24, evening edition) | AFP | Nikkei (Japanese source) | Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 25, morning edition) | Japan Times

“Tokyo hoping to mediate between key partners Washington, Tehran”

“Tokyo hoping to mediate between key partners Washington, Tehran”
February 1-18, 2010
     Earlier this month, Laura Rozen reported that Japan and Iran have been holding high-level talks on a possible Japanese role in hosting a nuclear fuel swap. With Japan’s behind-the-scenes efforts proving unsuccessful, the US is pushing for Japanese support in a UNSC vote for sanctions (Politico). In December, Japan’s ambassador to Iran Akio Shirota told Iranian MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi that Japan is ready to expand bilateral cooperation in various fields, including nuclear energy, while in Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada urged Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili to cooperate with the US. Last month, Shirota invited Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani to visit Tokyo.
     In an op-ed on Thursday, former Japanese diplomat Yoshiki Mine argues that Japan, with its experience using nuclear energy, should help Iran take measures to gain the trust of other global actors over its nuclear program. Mine writes that Japan, as the largest importer of Iranian oil and a state positioned “outside the framework of mutual mistrust” between Iran and the West, can make Iran understand the need to cooperate with IAEA inspectors. Mine argues that such Japan-Iran cooperation should involve discussions at the Cabinet level focusing exclusively on the nuclear issue (Mainichi Shimbun).
Politico | Mainichi Shimbun (Feb. 18, morning edition)