Iranian official seeks Japanese help for nuclear program

Iran’s foreign minister pushed back Wednesday against calls for deeper cuts to its nuclear program.

TOKYO — Iran’s foreign minister pushed back Wednesday against calls for deeper cuts to its nuclear program.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said the West “cannot entertain illusions” of Iran completely ending its uranium enrichment program. Speaking in Tokyo, he also reiterated that his country is not going to give up finishing its heavy-water nuclear reactor.

“We’re not going to close it. We’re not going to dismantle it. We’re not going to close or dismantle anything, that is our red line,” he told a news conference before meetings with the Japanese prime minister and foreign minister. “But we will address proliferation concerns that people may have.”

His remarks came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Washington, D.C., that Iran must dismantle its enrichment facilities and the reactor.

Iran is trying to negotiate a deal with the U.S. and five other global powers to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions. An interim agreement was reached in November, and the parties have begun negotiating a final deal.

Zarif said some appear to be trying to torpedo the talks, making a veiled reference to the crowd at Nethanyahu’s speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, “but I don’t think they’ll succeed because there is no other game in town. That’s the only game. That’s the only reasonable game.”

He also said Iran is eager to tap Japan’s nuclear power technology and needs more than $100 billion in investment in its oil and gas industries and $75 billion in petrochemicals.

Iran has one completed nuclear plant, built with Russia’s help, and wants 19 more.

“We’re negotiating with Russia on further construction of other nuclear power plants, but it’s not an exclusive environment,” Zarif said. “Certainly Japan can play a role.”

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