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Pakistan, Iran open work on gas pipeline

ISLAMABAD, March 11: Pakistan and Iran on Monday opened construction work on the 7.5 billion dolalrs gas pipeline despite severe US pressure against the project.

President Asif Ali Zardari and his Iranian counterpart  Mahmoud Ahmedinijad launched the work at a ceremony held  held in the Iranian border city of Chabahar. 

Iranian state television showed footage of Ahmadinejad and Zardari shaking hands and offering prayers after unveiling a plaque to mark Pakistan’s involvement. “The completion of the pipeline is in the interests of peace, security and progress of the two countries … it will also consolidate the economic, political and security ties of the two nations,” the two presidents said in a joint statement. President Zardari, in his address at the ceremony, regarded the pipeline project as “very important” for Pakistan. Zardari said world peace was correlated with peace in Pakistan, which, he stressed, was not opposed to or against any other state.

He said the prosperity of Pakistan and Iran was inter-linked and that the former was striving to become self-reliant. He added that the international community was unaware of the problems of the regional countries. Ahmadinejad hailed the fact that work on the new section of the pipeline was going ahead despite US sanctions against Iran’s oil and gas sector imposed over its controversial nuclear programme.

“This gas pipeline is a sign of show of resistance against domination,” Ahmadinejad said. “This pipeline has nothing to do with the nuclear issue, you can not build a nuclear bomb with natural gas,” he said, speaking alongside President Zardari in comments broadcast live on Iranian state television. Possible sanctions The Iran-Pakistan pipeline is intended to help Pakistan overcome its mushrooming energy needs at a time when the country is facing increased blackouts and energy shortages.

Dubbed the “peace pipeline”, the project has faced repeated delays since it was conceived in the 1990s to connect Iran’s giant South Pars gas field to India via Pakistan. It has also prompted several warnings from the United States of the possible imposition of economic sanctions on Pakistan. US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland has warned if the deal is finalised, it “would raise serious concerns under our Iran Sanctions Act.

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