Photo: Reuters
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Photo: Reuters

Iranian-Swiss gas deal irks Israel

Foreign Ministry summons Swiss ambassador to Israel for urgent meeting following signing of major agreement to provide gas between Switzerland and Iran

Israel is outraged by the recent signing of a huge gas deal between Switzerland and Iran, and has summoned the Swiss Ambassador to Israel Walter Haffner for an urgent meeting with Deputy Director for Western Europe at the Foreign Ministry Rafi Barak on Wednesday.


Iran and Switzerland on Monday signed a major agreement for Iranian gas exports to a Swiss company, in a rare energy deal between Tehran and the West as their nuclear showdown drags on.


"Today we witnessed the signing of a gas contract between the two countries," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced at a joint news conference with his Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey.


Swiss Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey with President Ahmadinejad (Photo: AP)


Financial details were not disclosed but the contract between Iran's state gas firm and Switzerland's Elektrizitaets-Gesellschaft (EGL) Laufenburg reportedly envisages Iran supplying 194 trillion cubic feet of gas annually from 2011.


Calmy-Rey said the deal was in full compliance with UN Security Council resolutions imposed against Iran for its failure to suspend uranium enrichment, a potential nuclear weapons-making process.


"I am happy that the gas exports agreement has been signed between the two companies," she said. "It is in full compliance with international law and the UN resolution."


'Wrong time to advance deals with Iran'

In the meeting at the Foreign Ministry Wednesday, Haffner was informed that Israel regretted the Swiss foreign minister's visit to Tehran and regarded it as an unfriendly act towards Israel.


Deputy Director Barak further stated that in light of UN Resolution 1803 and the international community's ongoing efforts to pressure Iran into abandoning its nuclear program, Israel believed that this was the wrong time to advance economic deals with the Islamic republic.


The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "Iran continues to pursue its nuclear program, aids radical organizations, supports terror, tramples on human rights and denies the right of a UN member state to exist, while demonstrating anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel.


"Switzerland and the entire international community are aware of the threat posed by Iran. Israel expects Switzerland to take part in the global efforts on this issue."


The US has also protested the gas deal. "We have conveyed to the Swiss that major new oil and gas deals with Iran send precisely the wrong message at a time when Iran continues to defy UN Security Council resolutions," the US embassy in Bern said in a statement.


AFP contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 03.19.08, 19:59
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