Switzerland Is First to Lift Iran Sanctions After Accord

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Switzerland is lifting sanctions against Iran after the Gulf state sealed a historic accord with world powers to curb its nuclear program.

The action on Wednesday made it the first nation to remove sanctions since the July 14 deal, which calls for lifting the economic restrictions in return for limits on Iran’s nuclear work.

The decision removes a ban on precious metals transactions with Iranian state bodies and the requirement to report trade in Iranian petrochemical products, according to a government statement on Wednesday. It also eliminates an obligation to report the transport of Iranian crude oil and petroleum products and rules on insurance and reinsurance policies linked to such transactions. The measures already had been suspended since January 2014.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said U.S. sanctions remain in place and penalties would still apply to any country or company that violates them. He told reporters that the U.S. wasn’t informed in advance of the Swiss move to drops its sanctions before Iran has taken the promised steps to curb its nuclear program and before the U.S., European Union and United Nations have removed their penalties.

Switzerland, home of some of the world’s largest oil traders including Vitol Group, Glencore Plc and Trafigura Beheer BV, has handled diplomatic and consular affairs for the U.S. in Iran since its revolution.

“This agreement opens up new political and economic prospects with Iran, including bilateral relations,” the Swiss government said. The decision underscores Switzerland’s “support for the ongoing process to implement the nuclear agreement, and its confidence in the constructive intentions of the negotiating parties,” it said in the statement.

Wednesday’s decision includes increasing the threshold values for reporting and licensing obligations related to money transfers to and from Iranian nationals.

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