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Iran may drop gas supply project with Pakistan

October 31, 2013, 12:48 UTC+3
Iran’s oil minister: the contract for supplying gas to Pakistan is likely to be annulled
1 pages in this article
AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File

AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File

TEHRAN, October 31 (Itar-Tass) - Iran may abandon plans to complete a multibillion-dollar project for pipeline gas supplies to Pakistan, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

“The contract for supplying gas to Pakistan is likely to be annulled,” Iran’s oil minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh told an international gas conference on Wednesday without elaborating on the reasons for the sensational decision.

A 2,700-kilometre pipeline connectintg Iran, Pakistan and India was to supply gas to Pakistan, suffering an energy shortage, but India left the project without explanation.

The 1,100-kilometre section lying in Iran’s territory was almost complete long ago, and a ceremony last March opened construction of the border section in Iran's southeastern city of Chabahar. Meanwhile, work to drive 780 kilometres of the pipeline have not even started in Pakistan. The government blamed delay on the financial crisis and asked Tehran for about $2 billion for the construction.

According to Fars, delays on the Pakistan side have been due not only to difficult economic conditions but also to pressure from Washington, demanding that Pakistan joins sanctions against Iran. Meanwhile, experts in Tehran believe a possible Iranian decision to leave the venture may not be only economic after a recent border clash with militants who penetrated from Pakistan. Fourteen Iranian military men were killed and several taken prisoners.

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