Iran responds to Pakistan's claims over joint gas pipeline project

Photo: Iran responds to Pakistan's claims over joint gas pipeline project / Iran

Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 27

By Temkin Jafarov, Saeed Isayev - Trend:

Iran has issued an official response to Pakistan, regarding the development of a joint gas pipeline project, which has stalled since the official announcement, Iranian Mehr news agency reported on Feb. 27.

"Pakistan's reference to sanctions on Iran, as a result of which it doesn't stick to its commitments, has a political context," deputy Oil minister of Iran, Ali Majedi said, adding that Pakistan's response doesn't justify halting contract obligations.

Earlier, Pakistani Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi informed the National Assembly on Feb. 24 that the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project was now off the table.

"In the absence of international sanctions, the project can be completed within three years, but the government cannot take it any further at the moment because international sanctions against Iran are a serious issue," he explained.

Majedi in turn said that according to the joint agreement, Iran has already completed construction of 75 percent of the pipeline on its territory - from over 1227 km, 924 km has been completed.

"Iran is able to fulfill its agreement obligations in time, and finish the construction in time. While the Pakistani side until today hasn't done a lot of its obligations," Majedi said.

"If Pakistan wants to step back from its obligations by linking it with the U.S. sanctions on Iran, this would be an ill-advised move," Majedi noted.

Iranian official went on to note that during the signing of the agreement, there was a lot of pressure on Pakistan to opt-out from the agreement. At the same time, Majedi noted that at the time of signing the agreement, Pakistan did not pay attention to sanctions and went on to sign the agreement.

The peace pipeline project was originally initiated between Iran and Pakistan. Later India expressed some interest in joining the project. The pipeline is projected to cost $1.2-1.5 billion and would enable the export of 21.5 million cubic meters of Iranian natural gas to Pakistan on a daily basis.

Iran and Pakistan originally clinched the deal in 1995. Later, Iran made a proposal to extend the pipeline from Pakistan into India.

In February 1999, an accord between Iran and India was signed. Nevertheless, India withdrew from the project in 2009 under the pressure from the United States.

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