The United States has threatened Pakistan with stringent US and UN sanctions if it goes through the multi-billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project. “Washington has made it clear that it will impose economic sanctions on Islamabad if it begins to buy gas from Iran. Besides, the UN mandated sanctions on any trade with the oil-rich country,” the Wall Street Journal said in a report.
“Our policy on Iran is well known. We have made it clear to all of our interlocutors around the world that it is in their interests to avoid activities that may be prohibited by United Nations sanctions or sanctionable under US law,” said the US embassy in Islamabad in a written reply to the newspaper.In a meeting with Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi in Islamabad on Wednesday, Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari called for an increase in joint ventures between his country and Iran in various areas, particularly in the energy sector. Iranian and Pakistani officials recently agreed to provide security for the IP project. According to the deal, an Iranian-Pakistani consortium will complete the process of constructing the pipeline in 15 months. The pipeline, projected to cost about USD 1.2-1.5 billion, would enable the export of 21.5 million cubic meters of Iran’s natural gas to Pakistan on a daily basis. On January 29, an Iranian deputy oil minister said Tehran would finance and help build the 700-kilometer tranche of the IP gas pipeline on the Pakistani side. The energy-starved Pakistan has constantly dismissed rumors that it might pull out of the project amid efforts by the United States to convince the country to abandon the pipeline. Iran has already built more than 900 kilometers of the pipeline on its soil. SF/HJL/MA