Iran General NewsPakistan prudent on Iran pipeline deal - premier

Pakistan prudent on Iran pipeline deal – premier

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Reuters: Pakistan will not rush into a deal for a natural gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistani while the United Nations has Iran’s nuclear program under scrutiny, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Friday. UNITED NATIONS, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Pakistan will not rush into a deal for a natural gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistani while the United Nations has Iran’s nuclear program under scrutiny, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog, is trying to verify that Iran’s nuclear program aims to produce electricity, as Tehran insists is the case, and not nuclear weapons.

At the same time, the United States and EU powers Britain, France and Germany want the IAEA board of governors to report the matter to the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions on Tehran. They argue that Iran is on a course to make bombs, not power.

Aziz, at the United Nations before visiting Washington next week, said the proposed $7 billion pipeline project with Iran would help his country’s economy keep growing at a fast clip while fostering better relations with India after years of brinkmanship between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

But “I think it would be fair to wait to see how these things unfold,” he said when asked whether Pakistan was determined to see a pipeline deal go through, regardless of what might happen to Iran at the United Nations.

“We will take any decision which we have to in our national interest,” Aziz said. “Once the environment changes, naturally we will see what these regulations or resolutions are, and create or follow a strategy accordingly.”

The prime minister said the Iran pipeline proposal was one of three possible alternatives Pakistan had been looking at for natural gas.

It is also weighing a pipeline from Qatar and one that would carry gas from Turkmenistan by way of Afghanistan.

Officials from India, Pakistan and Iran would meet in the next month or so for additional talks on the plan, he said.

Pakistan and India said last month they hoped to start building the pipeline from Iran by 2007 despite objections from the United States which, in addition to objecting to its nuclear program, accuses Tehran of funding anti-Israeli militias and stirring insurgent attacks in Iraq.

The project is expected to be owned and operated by a consortium of Iran’s National Iranian Gas Export Co. and National Iranian Oil Co., GAIL (India) Ltd. and Pakistani as well as international energy companies.

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