01/31/2020, 09.48
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US sanctions on Iran: Switzerland opens a channel for life-saving medicines

The mechanism allows the entry of medicines without incurring the punitive measures wanted by Washington.  In the last few days the first test shipment, for a total value of 2.3 million euros.  Iranian diplomat: the dedicated channel proves that sanctions also affect medicines.


Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Swiss authorities have launched a new payment mechanism, to allow the entry of medicines and humanitarian aid into Iran without incurring US sanctions which, to date, have also blocked the entry of life-saving medicines. 

On January 27, the go-ahead came for a first payment, as a test, aimed at sending a first tranche of urgent drugs, including chemotherapy and post-transplant anti-rejection medicines.

Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for the diplomatic mission of the Islamic Republic at the UN, underlines that the opening of a new channel is proof of the "false claims" circulating in the past, according to which the drugs were exempted from sanctions.  "If they had been - he adds - why open this special channel today?", Confirming "the economic terrorism [of the White House] towards the Iranian people".

The United States specifies that the channel is subjected to "severe measures" of control to avoid "misuse" by the Iranian counterpart.  In theory, basic necessities and humanitarian supplies are exempt from penalties;  however, in the past many banks and companies have effectively stopped sending them and blocked comments with Tehran in fear of US reprisals.

According to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), the agreement aims to ensure a reliable payment channel to Iran from a Swiss bank for exporters and businesses in the food, medical and pharmaceutical sectors based in the Confederation. This will enable Switzerland to make a contribution to the supplies for the population.

The dossier had been at the center of the talks last June, in Bellinzona, between Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis and American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  Seco, together with the United States Department of the Treasury, will monitor operators' full compliance with the rules and transmit the indications received to the United States authorities.

US-Iranian tensions were triggered by US President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ​​agreed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, which was followed by the toughest sanctions in history against Iran. Washington, which has its sight sets on the oil exports of the Islamic Republic has strengthened its military presence in the area. But the sanctions are primarily affecting the population.

The first pilot transaction involved the supply of carcinogens and anti-rejection medicines for a total value of 2.3 million euros.  US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirms Washington's "full confidence" that the mechanism "will improve the influx of humanitarian assets to the Iranian people."  We encourage companies, he adds, "to use this mechanism."

The launch of the new payment channel comes after a surge of tension between the United States and Iran, following the killing of the head of the Qods force Qasem Soleimani, to which Tehran responded by launching rockets towards US targets in Iraq.  At least 50 US soldiers injured in the attack.  To complicate the picture was added the shooting down by Tehran of a Ukrainian airliner, hit by one of the many missiles launched on the night of retaliation against Washington.

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