US will not block overland gas pipeline from Iran

Vol 9, PW 9 (11 Aug 05) People & Policy

Iran is confident that the United States will not block the overland pipeline from South Pars to India through Pakistan, despite mounting international concern over its nuclear programme.

A senior Iranian diplomat tells this report it is not in Americas interest to sabotage the project because this would undermine another, more important long-term US foreign policy objective: enduring peace between India and Pakistan. More, Pakistani diplomats have apparently told their Iranian counterparts that the US is not putting any direct pressure on Islamabad to abandon the project.

No official discussions have taken place between Pakistani and US officials on this issue, we learn. Pakistani officials tell us no one from the US has approached them directly for talks on this issue.

Any doubts about Irans commitment to the pipeline were also laid to rest last week when visiting Iranian deputy oil minister Nejad Hosseinien denied reports that the new administration in Tehran opposes gas exports. Adds our source: Gas exports is a well-established policy of the Iranian government.

It is a priority for us and it cant be stopped. It does not matter who the president is.

Could the Majlis (Iranian parliament) overturn the gas exports policy No every bill the Majlis ratifies needs to have national consensus and in Iran there is no national consensus to stop gas exports. We have huge amounts of gas in Iran.

It is our policy to sell it to our neighbours to India, Pakistan, China. For Iran, construction of the pipeline has huge regional implications.

This project can change the face of politics in this region, he adds. Its not only about dollars and money.

Everybody will benefit. Our source believes that if the three governments can sustain present momentum, pipeline construction could begin as early as next summer.