Iran sanctions 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
BERLIN – Switzerland will fall into line with European Union sanctions targeting
Iran’s energy, nuclear proliferation and weapons sectors, its government said
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“Bundesrat gives up its soft approach toward Iran,” the Neue
Zürcher Zeitung daily headlined the story.
However, the 18-22 billion
euro Swiss EGL gas contract with the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC)
has not been canceled.
The Bundesrat, Switzerland’s seven member
collective executive body, followed the advice of the Economics Ministry and
adopted the tougher EU sanctions.
Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline
Calmy-Rey had caused major diplomatic friction with the US and Israeli
She brokered the massive EGL-Iran gas deal in 2008, angering
the Americans and Israelis, who sought to block new natural gas revenue streams
for the Iranian government, as well as for Hamas and Hizbullah. After passage of
beefed-up EU sanctions against Iran last summer, Social Democrat Calmy- Rey
remained against embracing the tougher EU penalties.
According to Swiss
media reports, the Economics Ministry prevailed over Calmy-Rey’s and the Foreign
Ministry’s opposition to imposing sanctions against Iran.
Kreutner, the general secretary of Switzerland’s 18,000-member Jewish community
(SIG), told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the SIG “welcomes the Bundesrat’s
decision to conform the sanctions against Iran to the EU sanctions. We hope that
this will be the beginning of a more critical Swiss attitude toward
He criticized the gas contract with the Islamic
“The EGL’s gas supply contract with Iran undoubtedly
strengthens its economy.
That is exactly what the sanctions are supposed
to work against,” Kreutner said.
“If business with Iran falls under the
newly adopted sanctions, it must of course stop immediately. But even otherwise,
we would be very pleased if the EGL would stop doing business with
Switzerland’s state-owned EGL has issued statements saying the gas
deal is “nonoperational” at this time, but has not been canceled. The deal may
be subject to US and EU sanctions because of the transfer of gas technology to
It is unclear if the EU and US plan to sanction EGL. The company
was the subject of sanctions talk at a congressional hearing and conference
forum in Washington. EGL negotiated its gas acquisition deal with
NIGEC is a subsidiary of the National Iranian Gas Company, which
the UK placed on its Proliferation Concerns List in 2009. If the US State
Department sanctions EGL, it would become the second oil and gas company on
Swiss soil to be slapped with the new round of Iran sanctions. The first was the
Swiss-based, Iranianowned Naftiran Intertrade Company, a subsidiary of Iran’s
national oil company.