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Switzerland opposes unilateral EU and US sanctions on Iran
Switzerland's Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter says Bern does not support any unilateral sanctions imposed against Iran over its nuclear energy program.
Burkhalter told reporters after a Thursday meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow that Bern is against unilateral sanctions on Iran, ITAR-TASS reported.
He stressed that Switzerland will never back unilateral sanctions imposed by any alliance other than the United Nations Security Council, adding, “As a rule, we don’t support such sanctions.”
This is not the first time that Bern opposes unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Last month, Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf censured unilateral Western sanctions against Iran and described the bans as ‘unacceptable’.
She said that Switzerland does not agree with the bans and will continue economic relations with Iran within the framework of the UN decisions.
The United States, Israel and some of their allies accuse Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program with Washington and the European Union using this pretext to impose illegal unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Iran refutes the allegation and argues that as a signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Kaveh Afrasiabi, author and political scientist from Boston, to further discuss the issue.
The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: I want to ask about this distinction that the Swiss official made in a more general sense about unilateral sanctions and peaceful negotiations being two distinct paths that do not need in a sense. Do you agree with that?
Afrasiabi: Absolutely and I think that the Swiss decision is very important in several respects. For one thing, it does away with the myth of a common Western approach towards Iran; secondly, it highlights the very important distinction between the blanket European sanctions on Iran and the restricted UN sanctions because unlike the European sanctions UN does allow some trade, energy and other interaction between Iran and its trade partners worldwide.
And the Swiss decision is a very timely principle, I mean a brave decision that strengthens the hand of others, Russia and China that are also opposed to unilateral sanctions and want these multilateral nuclear negotiations to proceed forward with tangible results.
Press TV: How do you see in a general sense the current status of these sanctions against Iran as well as any prospects for negotiations?
Afrasiabi: Well there are lot of Western pundits who admit that the sanctions have been ineffective although they have inflected some pain on the Iranian economy and the Swiss decision because there are Swiss companies, banks and so forth involved with trade with Iran is also very indicative of a growing figure in the European community.
Although Switzerland is not part of the European Union nevertheless its decision impacts the rest of Europe and put some pressure on the hawkish European politicians who are toeing Israel’s line on Iran and there are lot of European companies that want to continue business with Iran and there are limited as result of these unfair and unjust sanctions.