Abe: Japan to do its best to save JCPOA
President Hassan Rouhani on Friday called on Japan to help confront the United States' bid to wreck the multinational deal on Iran’s nuclear program, as he met Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in Tokyo.
"I hope Japan and other countries will make efforts to help keep the nuclear agreement in place," said Rouhani, who became the first Iranian head of state to visit Japan for two decades.
The Iranian president inspected a guard of honor along with Abe at the latter's central Tokyo office before summit talks.
He slammed the "irrational" withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal.
"The nuclear agreement, needless to say, is a very important agreement for Iran. That is all the more reason for me to criticize strongly the United States' unilateral and irrational departure," Rouhani said through a translator.
“The withdrawal was a blow to peace and security, and in fact did not benefit either the United States or any of the other parties to the deal,” the Iranian president said. “The withdrawal proved that sanctions have no destiny except a lose-lose situation for all.”
Known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal was agreed between Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States, plus Germany.
The JCPOA has been at risk of falling apart since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it in May last year and reimposed economic sanctions.
Twelve months from the US pullout, Iran began reducing its commitments to the deal, in an effort to win concessions from those still party to the accord.
Its latest step back came last month, when engineers began feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into mothballed enrichment centrifuges at the underground Fordo plant south of Tehran.
Rouhani branded US sanctions as “economic terrorism” and “countries fight terrorism must counter this act by the US”.
The European parties to the deal have been pushing for talks between Iran and the US to salvage the nuclear deal.
Rouhani said Iran “has done and will do its utmost to reserve the JCPOA” and in return expects other parties live up to their commitments.
He also said Iran was ready for talks and welcomes any effort to maintain the deal as well as global peace and stability.
“Naturally, we do not refrain from any negotiation or agreement in the context of our interests,” he said.
Iran’s ‘constructive role’
As a key US ally that also maintains close diplomatic and economic ties with Iran, Abe has tried to build bridges between the two rival powers.
Japan was formerly a major buyer of Iranian crude but stopped purchases to comply with the US sanctions.
Last week, Abe said he would strive "as much as possible to ease tensions" in the Middle East, noting Japan's alliance with the US and "favorable relations" with Iran.
"Japan would like to do its utmost to ease tensions and stabilize the situation in the Middle East," Abe told Rouhani Friday.
“I strongly expect that Iran will fully comply with the nuclear agreement and play a constructive role for peace and stability in the region,” Abe said.
He said Japan has consistently supported the JCPOA and continues its efforts to keep it alive.
“Japan has started cooperation with the three European countries [regarding the deal].”
AFP, Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.