As its nuclear deal with world powers unravels amid heightened tensions with the United States, Iran will see a week of high-stakes diplomacy capped by the first visit of a Japanese prime minister to Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Shinzo Abe will arrive on Wednesday in Iran after earlier meeting with President Donald Trump, whose maximalist approach toward the Islamic republic has seen America re-impose sanctions once lifted by the 2015 accord and create far-reaching newer ones. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also will visit Tehran as well this week.
What Abe will be able to accomplish remains unclear, as Iran already has warned Europe it will begin enrichment of uranium closer to weapons-grade levels by July 7 if it doesn’t come up with new terms to the deal. It also comes as Japan tries to negotiate its own trade deals with Trump, who has been quick to impose tariffs on other nations.
But Abe, whose nation relies heavily on Mideast crude oil to power its economy, already has acknowledged the challenge. “Between Japan and the United States, there should be close collaboration so that this tension surrounding Iran should be mitigated and alleviated, and it shouldn’t culminate in armed conflict,” Abe said in a May news conference with Trump in Tokyo.