Iran urged to halt enrichment

TOKYO – JAPAN urged Iran on Monday to halt its controversial uranium enrichment programme, hinting Tokyo might support additional international sanctions against the country, media reports said.

The move came as Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada met his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki in Tokyo at Tehran’s request after the United States presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council.

The United States is pushing for a resolution that would punish Iran with a fourth set of sanctions because of fears that Teheran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is peaceful.

Mr Okada told Mr Mottaki fresh sanctions would be ‘unavoidable’ if Teheran continues a programme of enriching uranium to 20 per cent, a practice seen by Western nations as a cover for the production of nuclear weapons, the reports said.

Mr Okada told Japanese media after the meeting that what he had told Mr Mottaki had ‘connotations’ that Japan might support fresh sanctions, Jiji Press said.

The Japanese foreign ministry’s press division could not immediately confirm the reports. Mottaki said Iran’s nuclear development was strictly for peaceful purposes and that there was no need for the sanctions, the reports said. — AFP

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