TEHRAN (Iran News) – The administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a bid to ease tensions between Iran and the United States, secretly proposed the barter of Iranian crude oil for US grain via Japan last year, according to government sources.
Two sources confirmed to Kyodo News that the proposal was formally made in June 2019 when Abe made a visit to Iran — the first by a Japanese prime minister in 41 years — in an attempt to serve as a mediator between Iran and the United States.
In his June 12 meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Abe officially proposed the barter deal, worth several billion dollars, and it was initially received positively by Tehran and Washington.
The plan envisaged circumventing US sanctions on Iran by exchanging US corn and soybeans procured from the United States by Japan for Iranian crude oil, and to transport these after obtaining American approval.
But the diplomatic endeavor, primarily aimed at persuading Iran to agree to a dialogue with the United States, was ultimately unsuccessful as Japan could not overturn Iranian insistence that US sanctions be lifted first before there can be any such dialogue.
Besides Iran’s deep mistrust of the United States, the inconsistent policy of the US administration of Donald Trump was also regarded as a factor in the failure of the Japanese mediation effort, according to sources.
At the time the proposal was made, Washington was in the middle of a trade war with Beijing and seeking buyers for its crops, especially corn and soybeans, while Iran needed an oil export outlet due to the sanctions, as well as to boost its dwindling grain stocks.
Abe’s proposal was preceded by talks between Iran and Japan earlier that month in which Tehran asked Tokyo to add medication and machinery to its package, the report said.
Despite being keen to resume crude oil exports, Iran doubted the United States would accept the Japanese proposal and insisted on a US commitment in this regard.
The Japanese side was initially confident in persuading the United States but gradually became less so.
- source : Tasnim, Iran News