The United States on Wednesday urged Japan, which has long been having good relations with Iran, to emulate Europe and take "strong measures" to punish Tehran over its controversial uranium-enrichment program.
"Japan imports a lot of oil from Iran, but the steps we are asking Tokyo to take would not interfere in any way with Japan's energy security, its imports of oil from Iran," Robert Einhorn, State Department special adviser for non-proliferation and arms control, told a press conference.
He said he had told Japanese officials in an earlier meeting "to look at the measures already adopted by the European Union."
"These are strong measures. Japanese adoption of these strong measures would not adversely affect the economy of Japan," said the official, who earlier visited South Korea to rally support for tough sanctions.
The U.S. prodding came a day after the Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan approved a set of additional measures against Iran, including a freeze on the assets of 40 organizations and ban on Iran's investment in Japanese companies that may have access to nuclear or missile technologies.
The sanctions against Iran are in line with a U.N. resolution and signals Japan's willingness to work closely with the United States and the European Union in taking punitive actions against Iran.
In addition to those U.N.-backed measures, Tokyo also said said it planned to announce additional punitive measures--as done by the United States and European nations--later this month.
Daniel Glaser, a senior Treasury official overseeing efforts to combat terrorist financing and financial crimes, said U.S. officials "look forward to (Japan's) next steps that go beyond its UN requirements."
But some Japanese officials have expressed concern about going too far in taking steps that could deteriorate trade relations with Iran, a major oil supplier to Japan.
The U.N. Security Council in June slapped a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment work, part of a nuclear program which many Western nations say are a cover for acquiring nuclear weapons. However, Iran maintains that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
The European Union last week announced additional sanctions, which were opposed by Russia and China, now Iran's closest trading partner, with major energy interests in the country.
by RTT Staff Writer
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