Japan approves UN sanctions on Iran

AFP – Japan imposed sanctions against Iran over its contentious nuclear programme today in line with a UN resolution and said it plans to announce additional punitive measures later this month. The cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced the steps as the US State Department’s special adviser for non-proliferation and arms control Robert Einhorn was headed for Tokyo as part of an East Asian tour.

The measures include an asset freeze on 40 Iranian entities and one individual suspected of being involved in nuclear and missile development.

The UN Security Council in June slapped its fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment work, part of a nuclear programme which many nations fear masks a drive for nuclear weapons.

The US, European Union, Canada and Australia have also announced additional sanctions, which have been opposed by Russia and China, now Iran’s closest trading partner, with major energy interests in the country.

Japan is also considering its own additional sanctions, the top government spokesman Yoshito Sengoku said.

“The government will push ahead with studying measures our country should take so that we will have a conclusion as soon as possible, by the end of August,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku told a press conference.

“We believe we need to address the issue sternly to reach a diplomatic, peaceful solution,” he said.

European foreign ministers last week adopted measures targeting Iran’s oil and gas industries, going beyond the latest UN sanctions.

The EU measures include a ban on the sale of technology and services to Iran’s energy sector, hitting activities in refining, liquefied natural gas, exploration and production, and a ban on investments in the energy sector.

Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is peaceful.

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