Japan urges Iran to take further steps on nuclear issue

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (right) greets Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida during meeting in Tehran on Nov 9, 2013. Japan's foreign minister on Sunday urged Iran to take further steps to reach a nuclear deal with world powers, mainly by
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (right) greets Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida during meeting in Tehran on Nov 9, 2013. Japan's foreign minister on Sunday urged Iran to take further steps to reach a nuclear deal with world powers, mainly by allowing snap visits of its facilities, an official said. -- PHOTO: AFP

TEHERAN (AFP) - Japan's foreign minister on Sunday urged Iran to take further steps to reach a nuclear deal with world powers, mainly by allowing snap visits of its facilities, an official said.

Mr Fumio Kishida met President Hassan Rouhani in Teheran and "suggested" Iran accept the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which allows unannounced inspections of its nuclear sites, said the Japanese foreign ministry spokesman.

Mr Kishida also asked Iran to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) of the United Nations, which Teheran signed in 1996, Koichi Mizushima told reporters.

The Japanese minister said that taking those measures "would definitely help the process of Iran's nuclear talks" and "contribute" to ending Teheran's decade-long standoff with world powers over the issue.

The additional protocol allows reinforced and unannounced inspections of nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and requires that information be provided on all activities regarding the nuclear fuel cycle.

As it stands, Iran is only obliged to inform the IAEA three months before it transfers fissile material into the nuclear site.

Iran, a signatory of the NPT, voluntarily implemented the additional protocol between 2003 and 2006, but ceased applying it after its nuclear case was sent to the United Nations Security Council.

According to the spokesman, Mr Kishida wanted to discuss the same proposal with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The latest round of nuclear talks in Geneva between Iran and world major powers finished on Sunday without an agreement, after three days of intensive talks. The parties are due to meet again from November 20.

Although Japan is not part of the P5+1, it has good relations with the United States, and has maintained cordial ties with Iran.

"We were happy of Rouhani's message about having good relationships with the world... as a friend, we can discuss frankly how we can cooperate so that Iran take a more important role in the world," said Mr Mizushima.

The Islamic republic's official news agency IRNA also quoted him as saying that Japan was "ready to help Iran build nuclear power plants when the nuclear issue was resolved".