[April 22, 2006]

Iran rejects Japan's call to halt uranium enrichment activities+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TEHRAN, April 22_(Kyodo) _ Iran on Saturday rejected Japan's call to halt its uranium enrichment operations and reiterated that its nuclear programs are for peaceful purposes, Japanese officials said.


In senior working-level talks in Tehran, Motohide Yoshikawa, director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau, expressed Japan's concerns over Iran's announcement April 11 that it has successfully enriched uranium for the first time and joined the club of nuclear countries.

"Iran's announcement and activities that run counter to messages expressed by the international community are quite regrettable, and they will lead to Iran's isolation," Yoshikawa was quoted as saying in the talks.

Yoshikawa conveyed Japan's messages in his talks with Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari and Nematollah Izadi, director general for East Asia and Oceania at Iran's Foreign Ministry.

Izadi told Yoshikawa that Iran's nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes and asked Japan to try to bring issues concerning Iran's nuclear programs back to the International Atomic Energy Agency, rather than the U.N. Security Council, for discussion, the officials said.

Yoshikawa visited Iran for the meeting agreed to between Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and his Japanese counterpart, Taro Aso, when Mottaki visited Japan in late February.

The Iranian nuclear issue has become a cause of concern for Japanese businesses and industry as it could affect the Azadegan project, a major oil development initiative Japan is promoting in southwestern Iran, as well as Japan's reliance on Iran for crude oil in the face of the possibility of U.N. sanctions on Iran.

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