Resumption of talks on disarmament and non-proliferation

Japan’s foreign minister holds talks with Iranian counterpart

by Jumpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

TEHRAN—Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida held talks here with Mohammad Javad Zarif, his Iranian counterpart, on the afternoon of November 10. Mr. Kishida discussed the issue of Iran’s nuclear program with Mr. Zarif, who is responsible for his country’s negotiations on the issue. The two men agreed on the resumption of the bilateral talks on disarmament and non-proliferation that broke off in 2007. They also issued a joint statement expressing their intention to continue efforts to reach a final resolution of the nuclear issue.

Mr. Zarif attended talks on nuclear issues by six major powers, including the United States and several other Western nations, which were held in Geneva, Switzerland through November 9. The talks, which ended without a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, are slated to resume on November 20. At the beginning of his meeting with Mr. Zarif, Mr. Kishida said he hoped the parties to the talks would be flexible and that a deal could be reached.

After their meeting, the two foreign ministers held a joint press conference at which Mr. Kishida said, “We had a candid and meaningful exchange of opinions on nuclear and other issues.”

Mr. Zarif said, “I hope that Mr. Kishida’s visit to Tehran will have a positive impact.”

Mr. Kishida held talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on November 9 during which he urged Iran to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to implement a supplementary protocol that will make it possible for the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct surprise inspections.

During the talks between the two foreign ministers, they agreed on the need for opportunities to hold discussions on these kinds of issues on an ongoing basis. Both foreign ministers envision holding talks at the agency-head level. Through such talks, Japan would like to provide support for negotiations on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.

This was the first joint statement issued by Japan and Iran at the foreign minister level. Both nations share an awareness of the importance of resolving Iran’s nuclear issue through diplomatic efforts as soon as possible. Japan expressed its appreciation for the willingness of the Rouhani administration to participate in the talks with the six other nations and hailed the developments that took place in Geneva. Iran also said it would “welcome” Japan’s efforts to contribute to the nuclear issue.

Commentary: Foreign minister’s trip to Iran

Ability to negotiate denuclearization to be tested

by Jumpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida traveled to Iran amid major developments with regard to that nation’s nuclear program. Negotiations on the issue had been stalled, but at a press conference following their talks, the two men announced that they had agreed to resume talks between their two nations on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. This represents a first step by Japan to play a role in resolving Iran’s nuclear issue. The nation’s ability to negotiate denuclearization will be tested.

Primarily during the talks, Japan urged Iran to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and to implement a supplementary protocol that will make it possible for the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct surprise inspections, demonstrating its intention to encourage negotiations on nuclear issues by the six major powers involved in the talks.

All of these are efforts to eliminate suspicions about Iran’s nuclear development program. In particular, Japan has a large role to play in recommending ratification of the CTBT as calls to do so by the U.S., which has put off ratifying the treaty, carry little weight.

Iran also indicated that it has high hopes for efforts by Japan, with which it has friendly relations. Although the new Rouhani administration has taken a conciliatory stance toward the West, Iran’s strongly anti-American hard-line conservatives remain powerful. “Iran is hostile toward the U.S., but they will listen to Japan’s advice,” said an official in Japan’s Foreign Ministry. “There are areas in which the administration will find it easy to take action.”

A deal in the nuclear talks in Geneva was put off until the next session. Even if agreement on a deal is reached, final resolution of the nuclear issue is a long way off. If Iran’s top officials were invited to Hiroshima, they would realize for themselves that they should not possess nuclear weapons, which can bring about nothing but catastrophic consequences. Only Japan can extend such an invitation.

(Originally published on November 12, 2013)