Swiss Jewish leader calls gov´t to impose Iran sanctions (JERUSALEM POST) By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 04/24/12)
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BERLIN – The Swiss government’s decision last week not to fall in
line with the full implementation of EU and US sanctions targeting
Iran’s central bank and oil trade prompted tough words from the
general secretary of Switzerland’s Jewish community on Monday.
Jonathan Kreutner, general secretary of the 18,000- member community,
told The Jerusalem Post, “We regret the attitude of Switzerland,
which once again stands in contrast to the policies of other Western
states. Especially at a time in which Western states are seeking to
oppose the Iranian nuclear threat through intensified economic
sanctions, we find Switzerland’s actions worrisome. We expect
Switzerland to join the EU’s approach.”
The Swiss government announced its sanctions package last week,
saying, “This means that the assets of 11 further Iranian nationals
and companies will be frozen. The move brings Switzerland largely in
line with the restrictive measures adopted by the EU on 23 January
However, the Swiss sanctions contain major loopholes, including
failing to penalize Iran’s main financial conduit for its oil and gas
trade, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), as well as measures to stop
Swiss importation and trade involving Iranian crude oil.
In an email to the Post on Monday, Marie Avet, a spokeswoman for the
Swiss Economics Ministry, wrote that the ministry had read and taken
notice of the statement by the country’s Jewish community (SIG), but
would not comment on it.
“It is the right of every organization to assess following its
guidelines the resolutions of the Bundesrat [the Swiss governmental
body],” she said.
She added that “with the Bundesrat resolution from April 4, 2012,
Switzerland partially adopted the EU sanctions from January 23,
2012,” and that “the assets of 11 Iranian individuals and companies
were frozen, including Bank Tejarat. The Iranian central bank was the
exception to the EU rules because of its meaning for the Iranian
economy and was not placed under sanctions.”
She noted that in terms of the expanded EU sanctions in the oil
sector, the Bundesrat had not issued a decision.
“The Bundesrat will decide at a later point about a possible adoption
of the sanctions measures,” she wrote.
The central European country is not a member of the 27-member EU, but
has, after considerable pressure from the US and the EU, adopted
previous international sanctions against Iran. According to critics,
the Swiss are considered the weakest link in the sanctions chain.
In a telephone conversation with the Post on Monday, a representative
of Israel’s embassy in Bern conveyed a statement from ambassador ad
interim (chargé d’affaires) Shalom Cohen, who said, “We are
encouraged by the Swiss efforts to be in line with the international
community concerning sanctions against Iran to stop Iran’s nuclear
The embassy declined to comment on the absence of Swiss sanctions on
the CBI and oil trade.
Switzerland represents US diplomatic interests in Iran since 1981.
The US and Iran have not maintained diplomatic relations since 1980,
following the Islamic Revolution.
Alex Daniels, a press spokesman at the US Embassy in Bern, told the
Post on Monday, “We continue to work with the international community
on keeping pressure on Iran, and we are consulting with governments,
including Switzerland, on further measures that can be taken.”
He added that the US has “a strong bilateral relationship with
Switzerland and maintain a wide-ranging dialogue with the government
of Switzerland on a variety of issues of mutual interest.”
Cordial economic relations between Bern and Tehran have ruffled
diplomatic feathers over the years. The massive 18 billion- 22b.-euro
Swiss EGL gas deal with the National Iranian Gas Export Company
(NIGEC) prompted rebuke from the Israelis and Americans in 2008 and
The US Embassy in Bern said, “As we noted in the past when this deal
was first announced, oil and gas deals with Iran send the wrong
message when Iran continues to defy UN Security Council resolutions.”
Anne Bayefsky, a prominent UN legal expert and director of the Touro
Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, told the
Post, “Switzerland is building for itself the unenviable reputation
of having cordial relationships with the advocates of genocide, and
anti-Semitism in particular. Welcoming [Iranian President Mahmoud]
Ahmadinejad at the highest levels, embracing the second racist Durban
conference, hosting Hamas terror representatives, and much more,
evidence a clear and shameful pattern which fits with its latest
unfortunate behavior towards Iran.” (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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