* Does not expect Swiss to tolerate loophole
* EU oil embargo due to take full effect July 1
By Emma Farge
GENEVA, June 7 The United States is disappointed
that Switzerland has not yet adopted the European Union's
embargo on Iranian oil, the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland said,
adding that he did not expect the country to permit a legal
loophole in the long run.
Switzerland, a major physical oil trading hub and base for
Iranian state-owned oil trading firm Naftiran Intertrade
Company, extended an Iran blacklist in April but postponed a
decision on the EU ban until a "later date".
It also exempted Iran's central bank from its asset freeze.
"We expressed our disappointment. We would like them to do
it [follow the EU on Iran sanctions]," Donald S. Beyer told a
news conference in Geneva on Wednesday.
The EU embargo bans all new oil contracts with Iran and is
due to take full effect for existing contracts from 1 July.
Beyer added that Switzerland had cited its traditional role
as a go-between for Washington and Tehran and its history of
neutrality as reasons for not following the EU on Iran
Switzerland has represented U.S. interests in Iran since
1980 following the Islamic revolution in 1979. It is not a
member of the EU and has no legal obligation to follow EU
sanctions, which are designed to pressure Tehran over its
disputed nuclear programme.
Switzerland's body for enforcing sanctions, the Swiss
Secretariat for Economics, said on Thursday the Federal Council
had not yet indicated when it would make a final decision on the
"My reading of the Swiss leadership is they very much do not
want Switzerland to become an outlet for evading sanctions,"
"I don't think that's what they want or what they would
It is unclear how much of Iran's oil exports, estimated at
below 2 million barrels per day, are currently traded or
financed via Switzerland, where trading of a third of total
global oil by volume takes place.
Some major commodities traders such as Zug-based Glencore
say they have already voluntarily halted all oil trade