Friday, May 18, 2007

Japan OKs Stronger Trade Sanctions On Iran

Japan said it will freeze some Iranian assets and halt grants to the Middle Eastern country over its nuclear development program. The government froze the assets of 13 groups and 15 individuals involved with Iran's nuclear and missile program. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet today approved the sanctions in line with a United Nations Security Council resolution passed in March, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said today. Shiozaki also said Iran's relationship with North Korea must be closely monitored. The U.S. and South Korea are trying to verify whether North Korea tested a new missile in Iran, South Korea's Yonhap News reported yesterday, citing an unidentified U.S. military official.``It is necessary to respond resolutely to any connection to the North Korean nuclear issue to ensure the nonproliferation system holds,'' Shiozaki told reporters in Tokyo. Japan in December froze the assets of 10 groups and 12 people associated with Iran's nuclear program, imposing travel restrictions on the individuals listed. Japan provided 3.4 billion yen ($28 million) in grants to Iran as of March 2004, as well as 81 billion yen in loans and 17.8 billion yen in technical assistance, according to the foreign ministry's website. Iran is Japan's third largest supplier of oil, behind Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.