TOKYO (AFP) – Japan has offered to enrich uranium for Iran to allow the Islamic republic access to nuclear power while allaying international fears it might be seeking an atomic weapon, according to a report Wednesday.
Tehran has not yet given a concrete response to the US-backed proposal, which was made when Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili visited Tokyo in December, the Nikkei business daily said.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada on Wednesday held talks with Iran’s visiting parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani. But in a press briefing afterwards, Japanese officials neither confirmed nor denied the Nikkei report.
Okada told his guest that “Japan strongly hopes Iran’s nuclear issue will be resolved peacefully and diplomatically … and that Iran considers a related UN Security Council resolution seriously”, a foreign ministry spokesman said.
The United States and European powers suspect Iran is enriching uranium to make nuclear weapons under cover of its civilian energy programme, a charge Tehran denies.
Iran is at loggerheads with world powers for not accepting a deal drafted by the International Atomic Energy Agency that would supply it with nuclear fuel for a research reactor if it transfers the bulk of its low-enriched uranium.
Iran has so far failed to take up the IAEA offer, under which Russia would enrich its uranium and France would process it. Tehran this month said it had begun enriching uranium itself to a higher level.
Japan, the only country to have been attacked with atomic bombs, has strongly supported efforts for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.