By Mohammad Gharebag
TEHRAN, Kyodo - Iran stands ready to address the concerns of Japanese companies willing to continue business with the country, even as the United States presses its allies to get tough on Iran and to stop importing its oil, a top government official said Tuesday.
"We are ready to negotiate with Japanese companies who are interested to continue their business in Iran for reaching new solutions in order to ease their concerns," First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri told Kyodo News in an interview.
"The Japanese government and companies have always had their own ways to pass U.S. pressures and we hope again they use their initiatives to stay as a major oil importer from Iran," he added.
Japan is among eight nations that received six-month exemptions from U.S. sanctions on importing Iranian oil, which went into effect on Nov. 4, to give them more time to reduce their imports to zero.
Jahangiri said although Iran-Japan economic ties are currently affected by U.S. pressure, the two countries have long had good relations and Iran looks forward to a state visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for which it does "not see any obstacle."
"Anytime he is willing to pay a visit to Iran, Tehran is ready to welcome and host him," he added.
Jahangiri praised Japan’s stand in supporting global peace after World War II, but called it to use its power and influence to put an end to "U.S. unilateralism" in the world.
"Japan must stand against U.S. unilateralism, which is threatening independent countries and might go beyond Iran’s nuclear issue to encompass other issues around the globe," he said.
Regarding the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, the vice president said it has "found new customers and sold our oil to them."
While he did not reveal the identity of the "new customers," he said his government has started "serious negotiations" for selling more oil to Russia and to China and other Asian countries, for example.
Jahangiri anticipated that Iran could restore its oil exports to the level of before Nov. 4 even after expiration of the six-month waivers.
He called the stated U.S. goal of getting all the nations to reduce their imports of Iranian oil to zero "very dangerous," but at the same time "very unlikely."
"I assure the world that if Iran would be deprived of its main source of income, we would not be silent and will take appropriate measure in the right time."
Under a 2015 deal struck between Iran and six major powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
On May 8, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord struck under his predecessor Barack Obama and pledged "the highest level of economic sanction" against Iran, calling it "the leading state sponsor of terror." (Kyodo)