Zarif calls on Suga’s gov. to unfreeze Iran’s assets in Japan

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Zarif calls on Suga's gov. to unfreeze Iran's assets in Japan

In an interview with Kyodo News, Zarif called on Japan to unfreeze Iranian assets frozen in Japanese banks due to US sanctions, as a gesture to Iran by the new government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who came to power last September. According to Zarif, frozen assets in Japan and South Korea total close to $10 billion. Japan’s share — mainly revenue from crude oil exports to Japan — is estimated to be just under $3 billion. He said the unfrozen funds could be used to procure medicines and food, including vaccines for the novel coronavirus.

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Calling Japan an old friend of Iran and noting its good relations with the United States, he said, “We expect Japan to act as a friend, particularly when it comes to international law”, noting that sanctions reimposed after Washington left the landmark nuclear deal in 2018 are illegal.

“Since the United States is violating international law, the best role that Japan can play is to show Americans that Japan will not implement their illegal decisions,” he said.

US has to take first steps

Elsewhere in the interview, Zarif reiterated Iran’s stance regarding who should take the first step with regards to returning to the JCPOA. 

“It is clear the United States has to take steps first,” Zarif said, adding, “When Washington takes its steps, and we see the outcome, we can immediately take (steps) ourselves, and it is up to [EU foreign policy chief Josep] Borrell to choreograph these steps.”

He warned the window of opportunity will soon close as Iran’s parliament has set Feb. 21 as the day to end nuclear watchdog inspections beyond the country’s obligations under its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. “A law has been passed by parliament. That law has to be implemented,” he said while pressing Biden’s team to decide soon whether to return to the nuclear deal with Iran or continue Trump’s legacy by not quickly lifting sanctions.

After that window closes, Zarif said, Iran will produce more enriched uranium and further promote its nuclear development.

Zarif called that a natural outcome of Trump’s failed “maximum pressure” policy on Iran and added, “If President Biden wants to continue the same legacy, he will not be able to produce miracles.”

Zarif expressed his willingness to meet with senior Japanese government officials, saying, “They can raise whatever they want to raise with me, and I will respond to them based on Iranian policy and based on long-standing friendship between Iran and Japan.”

MAH/PR

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