Pakistan defies US over Iran gas deal
Pakistan says it will press ahead with its Iran gas pipeline deal despite a strong opposition by the United States, Press TV reports.
Pakistan's Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Friday that Islamabad will not accept any dictation regarding its internal affairs from any foreign country, adding that exporting gas from Iran is in the country's best interest.
The remarks came as a reaction to earlier pleas by Washington's Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter that the Pakistani government abort its multi-billion dollar gas pipeline project with Iran.
"Pak-Iran gas pipeline is not a good idea....However, the plan to get gas from Turkmenistan is a better idea," Press TV correspondent quoted Munter as saying on Friday.
The USD 7.6 billion gas pipeline deal, which was signed in June 2010, aims to export a daily amount of 21.5 million cubic meters (or 8.7 billion cubic meters per year) of Iranian natural gas to Pakistan.
Last month, Pakistan's Minister of Oil and Natural Resources Asim Hussain said the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline would be inaugurated before the end of 2013, one year ahead of the original schedule.
Maximum daily gas transfer capacity of the 56-inch pipeline, which runs over 900 km of Iran's soil from Asalouyeh in Bushehr Province to the city of Iranshahr in Sistan and Baluchestan Province, has been given at 110 million cubic meters.
Iran and Pakistan finalized the details of the deal during bilateral talks held in Tehran in October 2007.
The deal comes in the face of Washington's efforts to isolate Iran economically through UN Security Council sanctions and its own unilateral penalties over Tehran's nuclear programs.
Iran ranks second in the world in natural gas resources after Russia with available gas reserves estimated at over 33 trillion cubic meters.
In addition to exporting gas to Turkey, Armenia, and Pakistan, the country is currently negotiating gas exports to Iraq.