Reuters: Iran, India and Pakistan are making progress in talks on a planned $7 billion gas pipeline and the United States will not derail the project, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran, India and Pakistan are making progress in talks on a planned $7 billion gas pipeline and the United States will not derail the project, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday.
Washington, which accuses Tehran of developing a covert nuclear weapons programme, has repeatedly sought to discourage India from the project. Tehran denies the charge.
The plan has also been hampered by differences over pricing the gas and political tensions between India and Pakistan.
“Fortunately the negotiations are making progress … Principles have been agreed and we hope that in the current year we will be able to finalise the deal,” Ahmadinejad told a news conference with visiting foreign journalists.
The Iranian year ends in March. Iranian officials have previously said they hoped to sign a final deal in Islamabad on June 30.
“They (Americans) are after interfering in all the world’s affairs and they consider themselves the owner of the world. But they will not have an impact on this issue,” he said.
An Iranian energy official said this month during the latest round of talks that in the first stage of the planned contract 60 million cubic metres of gas per day would be exported to Pakistan and India.
If a second stage of exporting 150 million cubic metres of gas is reached another pipeline will be needed, he said.
Iran sits atop the world’s second largest gas reserves after Russia. But sanctions, politics and construction delays have slowed its gas development and analysts say it is unlikely to become a major exporter for a decade.
Apart from the pipeline, New Delhi is also negotiating with Iran to secure a deal that would see Tehran supply 5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) a year over a 25-year-period from 2009.