This Hanukkah Give the Gift of Truth

The Media Line led twenty years ago in pioneering the American independent news agency in the Middle East, arguably the first in the region. We have always stayed true to our mission: to provide you with contextual sourced and trustworthy news. In an age of fake news masquerading as journalism, The Media Line plays a crucial role in providing fact-based news that deserves your support.

We're proud of the dozens of young students we've trained in our Press and Policy Student Program who will form the vanguard of the next generation of journalists to the benefit of countless millions of news readers.

Non-profit news needs public support. Please support us with your generous contributions:
We thank our loyal readers and wish you all the happiest of holidays
The Media Line
Iran Sees Japan’s Abe as Mediator for Easing U.S. Sanctions
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waves Wednesday on departing Tokyo for Iran. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran Sees Japan’s Abe as Mediator for Easing U.S. Sanctions

Tehran threatens new measures if additional parties exit nuclear agreement, but one analyst thinks that’s a bluff

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, due in Iran today, is hoping to help reduce the hostility between the Islamic Republic and the United States.

“Amid rising tensions in the Middle East, we plan to encourage Iran, a regional power, to move toward easing tensions at the top leaders’ meetings,” Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, said in a statement.

Tokyo is a close ally of Washington and recently stopped importing Iranian oil after U.S. President Donald Trump ended a sanctions-waiver program that had permitted eight countries, Japan among them, to continue purchasing the product.

The waivers were instituted after Trump withdrew from a multilateral 2015 accord aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program in return for an end to economic and other sanctions against Tehran. The U.S. president claimed that Tehran was not holding up its end of the deal and was still working toward becoming a nuclear power.

Reuters quotes an unnamed senior Iranian official as saying that Iran is hoping that Abe “can help [in] easing the ongoing tension between Iran and America… as a goodwill gesture,” adding that “America should either lift the unjust oil sanctions or extend the waivers or suspend them.”

On his trip, which comes just weeks after Trump traveled to Japan, Abe is slated to meet with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

In recent days, Tehran has threatened the remaining parties to the 2015 deal that “it would take new measures” if a 60-day deadline for them to announce a firm stand on the reimposed U.S. sanctions bears no fruit.

Nevertheless, Hisham Jaber, a Lebanese analyst and expert on Iranian affairs, affirmed to The Media Line that Iran was sticking to the agreement.

“The agreement is international and approved by the [United Nations] Security Council,” Jaber said. “Tehran gave the other parties to the deal [the U.K., France, Germany, the European Union, Russia and China] 60 days to decide on [their] position on the American sanctions and the terms of the nuclear deal, which they should commit to.”

Tehran’s goal is to establish a mechanism known as INSTEX to circumvent economic sanctions by allowing non-dollar trade with the Islamic Republic.

Following the American withdrawal from the accord, “Iran has already lost billions of dollars’ worth of deals… based on the nuclear deal,” Jaber stated. In addition, he said that if any of the remaining parties exited the accord, the agreement would no longer be considered international in nature. What’s more, “Iran would increase [its] uranium enrichment,” something media reports in recent days said had already begun following statements made by a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“Experts confirm that Iran will be able to produce a nuclear weapon within a year,” Jaber said, insisting that while this would “bother the U.S. and Israel, the other countries couldn’t care less.”

Abe’s trip to Iran comes close on the heels of a visit to Tehran by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who warned after a meeting with Rouhani that the “situation in the region here is highly explosive and extremely serious.”

Mohammad Jawad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, said that during Abe’s stay, he would explain to the prime minister that the American economic war was a form of terrorism and ask him to pressure Trump to end the war and “change the current situation.”

Zarif added that Europe was not in a position to criticize Iran, whether within the framework of the nuclear agreement or outside it, stressing that the Europeans had to restore their economic relations with Iran.

“The European policies in the Middle East have only brought destruction,” he elaborated, “Some countries in Europe are still selling Saudi Arabia arms to bomb Yemen [and] the Europeans allowed some countries in the region to commit crimes.”

Ahmed al-Bouz, a Moroccan analyst and professor of political science and constitutional law at Mohammed V University in Rabat, told The Media Line that the tensions between Washington and Tehran were not merely over the nuclear accord and sanctions.

“Washington is trying to achieve with Iran what it couldn’t in Syria and Yemen through economic war and threats of military attacks,” Bouz stated, adding that the conflict between Iran and the U.S. had entered a new phase.

“It’s direct now, not like in Syria and Yemen, where it was [like] medieval wars,” he said.

Bouz believes that if the remaining parties leave the agreement, Iran might be more flexible in reviewing the American offer to redo the deal.

“Tehran might accept going back to the negotiating table as its position would be weak,” he explained.

(Lawrence Rifkin contributed to this report.)

Give the Gift of Trusted News!

Dear friends,

The Media Line is always there to report to you the stories and issues of the Middle East – completely and in context: TML is the source you can trust.

Know The Media Line to Know The Middle East!

Please support our ad-free, nonprofit news agency. Our seasoned journalists reporting from the Middle East are working day and night during these challenging, yet defining times; and our student interns are honing their knowledge and skills, preparing to emerge as tomorrow’s journalists.

You rely on us and we’re relying on you! Make your online tax-deductible donation here and contact us regarding donations through appreciated stock, donor advised funds, qualifying IRA distributions and other charitable instruments.

Thank you for confidence in The Media Line.
Felice Friedson
Founder, President

Invest in the
Trusted Mideast
News source.
We are on the
front lines.

Personalize Your News
Upgrade your experience by choosing the categories that matter most to you.
Click on the icon to add the category to your Personalize news
Browse Categories and Topics
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.