0634 GMT February 21, 2019
"We are ready to negotiate with Japanese companies who are interested in continuing their business in Iran for reaching new solutions in order to ease their concerns," Iran's First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri told Kyodo News in an interview on Tuesday.
"The Japanese government and companies have always had their own ways to bypass US pressures and we hope again they use their initiatives to stay as a major oil importer from Iran," he added.
Japan is among eight nations that have received six-month waivers from US sanctions on importing Iranian oil, which went into effect on Nov. 4, to give them more time to reduce their imports to zero.
Jahangiri said although Iran-Japan economic ties are currently affected by US pressure, the two countries have long had good relations and Iran looks forward to a state visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for which it does "not see any obstacle."
"Anytime he is willing to pay a visit to Iran, Tehran is ready to welcome and host him," he added.
Jahangiri praised Japan's stand in supporting global peace after World War II, but called it to use its power and influence to put an end to "US unilateralism" in the world.
"Japan must stand against US unilateralism, which is threatening independent countries and might go beyond Iran's nuclear issue to encompass other issues around the globe," he said.
Regarding the impact of US sanctions on Iran's oil exports, the vice president said it has "found new customers and sold our oil to them."
While he did not reveal the identity of the "new customers," he said his government has started "serious negotiations" for selling more oil to Russia, China, and other Asian countries, for example.
Jahangiri anticipated that Iran would restore its oil exports to the level of before Nov. 4, even after expiration of the six-month waivers.
He called the stated US goal of getting all nations to reduce their imports of Iranian oil to zero "very dangerous," but at the same time "very unlikely."
"I assure the world that if Iran would be deprived of its main source of income, we would not remain silent and will take appropriate measures at the right time."
Under a 2015 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.
On May 8, US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord struck under his predecessor Barack Obama and pledged “the highest level of economic sanctions” against Iran.