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Q: There is a recent report from the official Iranian Student's News Agency that the Islamic Republic of Iran will start feeding uranium gas into a second network of centrifuges in its Natanz pilot enrichment plant in a matter of days. Is the Japanese Government aware of this? Has the Iranian Government relayed this to Japan via diplomatic channels?
Mr. Shikata: I am not aware of the specific report that you mention. However, as for the Iranian nuclear program, we have been following the situation very closely, and we expect that this issue will be taken up in the UN Security Council not far in the future.
Q: Sir, a follow-up question on the Iranian nuclear issue. How "not far in the future" is this? Would this be sometime within this week? Also, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the French Republic have circulated a draft sanctions resolution on Iran to the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China, which warns Tehran of additional sanctions to imposed under Article 41 of the UN Charter's Chapter 7. How effective does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs see this kind of action in resolving the Iranian nuclear issue?
Mr. Shikata: As for the specific timing of the discussion at the UN Security Council, since this will take place based on prior consultations among the major members concerned, it is hard for me to mention specifically. The international community is united in preventing Iran from developing nuclear capabilities and Japan hopes that we will proceed with concrete deliberations at the UN Security Council in due course.
Q: In relation to the North Korean and Iranian nuclear issues, do you feel that if Japan does not take strong actions on North Korea, it will embolden Iran to pursue its nuclear ambitions? How seriously concerned is Japan over the Iranian nuclear issue compared to that of North Korea (given that Iran has not yet developed nuclear capability while North Korea has claimed to have such capability)?
Mr. Shikata: First, let me point out that Japan is against the nuclear development of both North Korea and Iran. Of course, given the proximity of North Korea to Japan, we feel a direct threat from North Korean nuclear or missile developments. At the same time, we are concerned about Iran's possible nuclear weapons program, and we are united with the rest of the international community to prevent it from realization. In addition, since we import approximately 90% of our crude oil from the Gulf region, we are concerned about possible implications it has upon the Middle Eastern security environment.
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