An embedded graph G in the 3-sphere S3 is called 2-irreducible if there are no separating spheres, cutting spheres, singular separating spheres, singular cutting spheres or 2-cutting spheres of G. Let D be a 2-disk in S3 that is very good for G. Let G' be an embedded graph in S 3 obtained from G by contracting D to a point. We show that if G' is 2-irreducible then G is 2-irreducible. By this criterion certain graphs are easily shown to be 2-irreducible. As an application we show a pair of embedded graphs in the 3-sphere which is distinguished by 2-irreducibility.
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