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
Over US Threats, Pakistan, Iran Push for Gas Pipeline
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)

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. (More Pakistan stories.)

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