US threatens Pakistan with sanctions over Iran gas pipeline

c2a6us pakistan US threatens Pakistan with sanctions over Iran gas pipeline

Iran and Pakistan expect the completed pipeline will deliver21.5 million cubic meters (760,000 million cubic feet) of gas perday to Pakistan from its giant offshore South Pars field in thePersian Gulf by December 2014.Iranian contractors will construct the pipeline, which crossesPakistani territory. Tehran has agreed to lend Islamabad $500million, one-third of the estimated $1.5 billion cost of the750-kilometer pipeline, according to Fars news agency.After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistanicounterpart Asif Ali Zardari launched the project on Monday on theIran-Pakistan Border, the US threatened to respond with sanctionsif the project “actually goes forward.”“We have serious concerns if this project actually goesforward that the Iran Sanctions Act would be triggered,” StateDepartment spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, commenting on theso-called ‘peace pipeline.’Iran has completed 900 kilometers of the pipeline’s segment onits side of the border with Pakistan. Monday’s ceremony marked thebeginning of work on the Pakistani segment, which will start at theIranian town of Chahbahar near the border.“We’ve heard this pipeline announced about 10 or 15 timesbefore in the past. So we have to see what actually happens,”Nuland said.Conceived in 1990s, the project initially involved Iran,Pakistan and India. However, India pulled out of the project in2009, citing cost and security issues. The United States haspersistently opposed Pakistani and Indian involvement in theproject, insisting it would violate sanctions against Iran over itscontroversial nuclear activity.Nuland reiterated that the US is working to increase Pakistan’senergy supplies through other means: “This pipeline project, ifit actually goes forward – we’ve seen that promise many times –would take Pakistan in the wrong direction right at a time thatwe’re trying to work with Pakistan on better, more reliable ways tomeet its energy needs.”The US is “supporting large-scale energy projects in Pakistanthat will add some 900 megawatts to the power grid by the end of2013,” she added.Pakistan sees the pipeline as a way of easing severe energyshortages, which have sparked demonstrations and battered a weakgovernment. At the same time, Islamabad needs the financial aid itreceives from the US.  In response to Washington’s threats of sanctions, PresidentAhmadinejad accused “foreign elements” of using Iran’snuclear program as a pretext to thwart Iran-Pakistan relations,saying they have no grounds to oppose the pipeline project since itdeals with natural gas.  “With natural gas you cannot make atomic bombs. That’s whythey should have no excuse to oppose this pipeline,” Reutersreported, quoting a translation of a televised statement byAhmadinejad. “I want to tell those individuals that the gaspipeline has no connection whatsoever with the nuclearcase.”‘Pipeline undermines US hegemony in the region’The Iran-Pakistan pipeline could undermine US hegemony in theMiddle East and South Asia, Eric Draitser, an independentgeopolitical analyst and founder of StopImperialism.com wrote for RT: “The pipeline brings the twocountries closer together and, in so doing, helps to solidify arelationship united by a common mistrust of the US.”Anthony Skinner, director of British-based Maplecroft risksconsultancy, echoed the idea that Pakistan wants to show its placeon the international stage by daring to make decisions that“defy the US.””The Pakistani government wants to show it is willing to takeforeign policy decisions that defy the US,” Skinner said,according to Reuters. “The pipeline not only caters toPakistan’s energy needs, but also lodges brownie points with themany critics of the US amongst the electorate.”Draitser also believes that the “peace pipeline” will bea success, especially if China decides to become involved: “Inthis very plausible scenario, China would finally get the ‘holygrail’ it has sought for years: land-based access to energy importsfrom the Middle East.  For China, an energy-starved economythat continues to grow, this would greatly enhance their regionalposition.”“It would also transform the balance of power in Asia, as theera of US domination of energy resources in the Middle East wouldbe over,” he added. “So, were the project to be extended toChina, the pipeline would become the focus of a new power paradigm,making it one of the most important economic development projectsin the world.”

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US threatens Pakistan with sanctions over Iran gas pipeline


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