TEHRAN – With Japan’s prime minister on the way to Tehran for a historic visit, a hard-line Iranian paper published a front page image Wednesday of a mushroom cloud from a nuclear blast — a reference to America’s bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II that underscores the challenge ahead for Shinzo Abe.
Abe’s trip is the highest-level effort yet to de-escalate tensions between the U.S. and Iran as Tehran appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers, an accord that the Trump administration pulled out of last year. It’s also the first visit of a sitting Japanese premier in the 40 years since the Islamic Revolution.
But success may prove difficult for Abe, as the front page of the daily Farheekhtegan, or Educated, suggests.
“How Can You Trust A War Criminal, Mr. Abe?” the newspaper asked in dual English and Farsi headlines. Hard-line news outlets in Iran immediately picked up the front page from the paper, published by students of Islamic Azad University, which has campuses across the nation.
Iran is threatening to resume enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade level on July 7 if European allies fail to offer new terms for the nuclear deal. While President Donald Trump says he wants to talk to Tehran, the U.S. has piled on sanctions that have seen Iran’s currency, the rial, plummet, along with Iran’s crucial oil exports.