Asian nations sign off on Iran nuclear deal

Asian nations sign off on Iran nuclear deal

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and five of their large neighbors endorsed the nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and six world powers, even as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing highlighted the importance of the accord in preventing the spread of atomic weapons.

In a joint statement issued from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the foreign ministers of the ASEAN countries along with Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea welcomed the deal with Iran as an “important resolution” that could resolve one of the world’s most pressing concerns if it is adhered to. The statement was issued on the final day of a Southeast Asian regional security forum in Malaysia.

If the deal is fully implemented, “the international community will be able to resolve this significant international security challenge, and to do so peacefully,” said the statement. It said the deal would “ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” which many believe has been used as a cover for atomic weapons development. Iran denies that charge.

ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. Also signing the statement were China, Russia and the United States, which were involved in negotiating the agreement with Iran.

The public display of Asian support for the deal comes as U.S. President Barack Obama tries to convince skeptical U.S. lawmakers to back the accord, which would place curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Shortly before the joint ASEAN statement was released, Kerry met in Kuala Lumpur with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida as Japan and others marked the 70th anniversary of the 1945 nuclear blast in Hiroshima. Kerry said the occasion was a “very, very powerful reminder” of the impact of war that also demonstrated the importance of the Iran deal.

“It is impossible not to have thoughts about it,” Kerry said, adding that he had watched the ceremony in Hiroshima’s peace park marking the moment of the atomic blast in 1945.

“Needless to say, it is a very, very powerful reminder of not just the impact of war lasting today on people and countries, but it also underscores the importance of the agreement we have reached with Iran to reduce the possibility of more nuclear weapons,” he told reporters. “And the United States and other countries are working to move — particularly Russia and the United States with our agreement – to reduce the number of existing nuclear weapons.”

Kerry also lauded the current strong ties between the United States and Japan and paid tribute to Hiroshima’s survivors.

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