Switzerland's Social Democratic foreign minister Michelin Calmy-Rey seems to be playing the part of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's representative in Europe these days. The Swiss daily NZZ disclosed that Calmy-Rey vehemently opposes adopting EU sanctions against Iran. And her country's massive energy company EGL plans to move forward with an energy deal, reportedly valued between 18 and 27 billion euros, with the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC).
Her infatuation with Iran's fanatical president was already on display back in 2008 when she helped broker Europe's largest gas deal between EGL and Ahmadinejad. Through the deal, EGL intends to transport more than 5 billion cubic meters of Iranian gas each year over a 25-year period. While euphorically embracing Iran's despotic president, Calmy-Rey quickly departed from her alleged feminist position and donned a headscarf.
The revenues from the EGL energy deal with NIGEC, whose parent company, National Iranian Gas Company, was placed on Britain's Proliferation Concerns List in February 2009, will not only feed Iran's nuclear weapons program but help fund its terror proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah. The new wave of revenue does not bode well for Iran's struggling pro-Democracy movement. The EGL funding stream will enable the Iranian regime to further fund its repressive Revolutionary Guard Corps to stifle and repress dissidents.
While Calmy-Rey makes great efforts to champion her country's “neutrality” (the Swiss are not a member of the EU), she and EGL are compromising the security of Switzerland's roughly 8 million citizens, the West, and the Middle East region. The United States should ignore Calmy-Rey's phony declarations of neutrality, and sanction EGL for violating the U.S. Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act, which provides for sanctions for investments that contribute to Iran’s ability to develop and transport its petroleum resources.
According to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his French counterpart, the growing global sanctions regime against Iran is inflicting pain on Tehran's clerical rulers.
Given Switzerland's anti-West foreign policy, the U.S should perhaps consider recalling Switzerland as the representative of U.S diplomatic interests in Iran. The conflict of interest is painfully obvious. How can the Swiss represent American interests when its foreign minister Calmy-Rey is actively undercutting the U.S led sanctions strategy?
In short, the Swiss cannot function as Ahmadinejad’s representative in Europe, propping up Iran's economic and political policies, and claim to be a neutral agent for American diplomacy in the Mullah-controlled state.
Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.