Friday, January 27, 2012

US lobbies Pakistan to drop IP project

US State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland

Source: Press TV

The United States has urged Pakistan to abandon the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project promising Washington will help Islamabad with the consequences of the decision.

Spokeswoman of the US State Department Victoria Nuland said on Friday that Pakistan was “one of the countries that we're working with, primarily from the US Embassy," to stop buying gas from Iran.

On December 31, 2011, US President Barack Obama signed into law new sanctions against Iran, which seek to penalize foreign institutions that do business with Iran's central bank and oil sector.

"We're talking to countries around the world about the implications of this legislation and our efforts to cut global dependence on Iran," Nuland added.

Asked if Washington is encouraging Pakistan to buy cheaper gas from US companies, she said, "I don't have anything specific on where those conversations are leading, but we are talking about all kinds of diversification."

An article published by the International Herald Tribune on Wednesday noted that Washington is trying to lure Islamabad away from the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project by offering cheaper gas to the country.

The article added that the US has stepped up efforts to lobby Pakistan to abandon not only the IP gas pipeline project, but also liquefied natural gas (LNG) purchases from its western neighbor in return for cheaper gas from US.

Pakistan's Foreign Office announced on Thursday that the gas pipeline project between the country and Iran did not come under the sanctions imposed on Tehran because of its nuclear program.

"Pakistan is committed to the Pak-Iran gas pipeline and sanctions do not cover this project," Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit added.

The multi-billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline 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.

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 has already constructed more than 900 kilometers of the pipeline on its soil.

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