“The Japanese side insisted that under any circumstances they would like to continue their cooperation in the domain of safety,” Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), told Kyodo News in an interview on the sidelines of a seminar in Brussels on Tuesday.
“Even as recently as a few weeks ago, our officials from Iran and officials from Japan met each other,” Salehi said, while noting that Japan had already hosted training programs for Iranian scientists on safeguards and nuclear safety.
He said that as nuclear accidents in any country could have impacts beyond its borders, it is important for the international community to be involved in nuclear safety.
Salehi praised Japan’s supportive stance regarding Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
He said he understands Japan’s delicate position vis-a-vis the United States.
At the same time, he urged Japan to put aside “unnecessary caution” and restart, or even expand, cooperation with Iran in areas unaffected by unilateral US sanctions, such as the field of medical equipment and the “humanitarian side of the scientific technological cooperation.”
“We would like to see Japan play a more independent role. Japan can do a lot if it wishes. There are areas that have nothing to do with Americans, but the Japanese are very cautious in their actions when it comes to Iran,” he said.
Salehi said Japan could also play a positive role by supporting European efforts to salvage the 2015 nuclear accord.
After the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May, Iran said that it would continue its commitments so long as it sees economic benefits under the deal. It has given the European Union some time to come up with a solution.
While Iran is starting to lose patience, Salehi said he had positive meetings in Brussels and is optimistic that the Europeans will find a way to pay for continued Iranian oil exports despite US sanctions affecting financial transactions.
He added that the two sides have agreed on a timeline.
Salehi said that if the nuclear deal breaks down, “The consequences will be unpredictable for everyone, even for us, for the international community, and for the region. Only God knows what will happen.”
If that happens, he warned, Iran stands ready to resume enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity at its nuclear facility in Natanz.
Under the deal struck between Iran and six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.