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Swiss-US talks Swiss worry about humanitarian impact of US Iran sanctions

Workers in an Iranian factory

Switzerland worries that there may be humanitarian consequences beyond the economic impact of sanctions on Iran.


Switzerland has asked the United States to ensure the flow of humanitarian goods to Iran following the re-introduction of economic sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.

The Trump administration is warning countries not to do business with more than 700 individuals and entities on the sanctions list, which includes banks, oil exporters and shipping companies. The US says the embargo will continue until Iran stops its nuclear programme.

+ Read about Swiss-Iran trade

But Switzerland wants the US to allow a “humanitarian payment channel” for food and pharmaceuticals products to go to Iran. 

“Switzerland is committed to safeguarding Swiss economic interests and is closely following the development of the situation. The authorities are in direct contact with the relevant authorities of the United States, the EU and Iran,” the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) told Reuters in an emailed statement on Monday.

“Particularly in the humanitarian field, the federal government is committed to ensuring that food and pharmaceutical products can continue to be supplied from Switzerland,” it added.

Displeasure voiced

SECO said it was in was in touch with the US authorities, Iran and unnamed Swiss companies on developing a humanitarian payment channel to achieve this end.

Earlier this year, President Trump tore up a nuclear accord brokered between the US and Iran in 2015. Economic sanctions were re-imposed in August and have recently been stepped up. 

The new round of US sanctions has not been completely endorsed by other countries, including the European Union. Several Swiss politicians have voiced their displeasure at the US move.

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