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Switzerland Close to Launching Iran Payments Channel

The simultaneous efforts highlight the transatlantic schism since US President Donald Trump pulled out of the landmark international nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May.

US officials have denounced the EU for its efforts to defy reimposed US sanctions on industries ranging from oil to finance.

The Swiss economic affairs department told the Financial Times it was “striving” to set up the humanitarian payments channel “as soon as possible” but could not give a start date. “Discussions are still ongoing with US authorities, Iran and Swiss companies,” it said.

Switzerland — which is not an EU member and has a large pharmaceuticals sector and a tradition of neutral diplomacy — has strong credentials to be a base for the mechanism.

Roche, the Swiss pharmaceuticals company, said it was aware of “discussions on a potential alternative financing channel for humanitarian purposes” but could not comment further. “To our knowledge no concrete proposals have been made,” it said.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman on Monday stressed that the SPV is not only about supplying medicine and foodstuff to Iran.

He said the financial mechanism which the EU has devised to facilitate trade with Iran includes a variety of items.

The SPV is aimed at meeting Iran’s demands for various imported articles in a new way, the spokesman said, adding that the mechanism would not be launched only to address needs for medicine and foodstuff.

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