Over US Threats, Pakistan, Iran Push for Gas Pipeline

Presidents meet to inaugurate project

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 11, 2013 2:04 PM CDT

(Newser) – Pakistan is starting work on a gas pipeline to Iran, a long-planned project that the US says threatens anti-nuclear sanctions against Tehran. Iran has nearly finished its own section of the pipeline; today, presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Asif Ali Zardari attended a border ceremony. Some 485 miles of pipeline are planned for Pakistan as it wrestles with an energy crisis, the BBC reports.

But the deal raises "serious concerns under our Iran Sanctions Act," says a US state department rep. "We've made that absolutely clear to our Pakistani counterparts." The pipeline, the US says, would mean more gas sales for Iran; the project itself could face sanctions. But it's "in Pakistan's national interest," Pakistan's foreign minister said last year, adding that the effort would be carried out "irrespective of any extraneous considerations." Talks for the project began in 1994 and included India, which dropped out a year after signing a US nuclear agreement.

Iranian workers weld gas pipes together at the start of construction on a pipeline to transfer natural gas from Iran to Pakistan, in southeastern Iran, near the Pakistani border, March 11, 2013.
Iranian workers weld gas pipes together at the start of construction on a pipeline to transfer natural gas from Iran to Pakistan, in southeastern Iran, near the Pakistani border, March 11, 2013.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shakes hands with Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari after inaugurating the Pakistan-Iran Gas Pipeline Project near the Pakistani border, March 11, 2013.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shakes hands with Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari after inaugurating the Pakistan-Iran Gas Pipeline Project near the Pakistani border, March 11, 2013.   (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
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