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WASHINGTON – U.S. friend Pakistan has decided to ignore U.S. sanctions and is proceeding to finalize a pipeline that will carry Iranian natural gas into its energy-starved economy, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The two countries always have had good relations, except for a spat over the Taliban, which had killed some Iranian diplomats years ago. But that’s all in the past as Pakistan shows other countries such as India what it means to be energy independent from the United States.
The U.S. is livid with Pakistan for agreeing to finalize the 1,600-mile pipeline from Iran, saying that the plan violates U.S. unilateral sanctions. However, the decision by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to proceed with the deal isn’t in violation of United Nations sanctions.
Many countries, including Russia and China, in the past have served notice on Washington that they will not honor unilateral U.S. sanctions, although they would abide by U.N. sanctions toward Iran’s nuclear program.
Analysts say that Pakistan’s need for the energy is urgent and officials are determined to make the pipeline a reality. The Asian Development Bank, which is backing some of the financing of the pipeline, said that the need is purely on economic grounds and the rising energy demands from Pakistan.
Nevertheless, the U.S. still could implement its unilateral sanctions against Pakistan.
“We have serious concerns, if this project actually goes forward, that the Iran Sanctions Act would be triggered,” according to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
“We’ve been straight up with the Pakistanis about these concerns,” she said. “We’ve heard this pipeline announced about 10 to 15 times before in the past. So we have to see what actually happens.”
Analysts say that the pipeline deal works in favor of Tehran, which has begun to feel the pinch of international and U.S. unilateral sanctions, since it weakens the politics of leverage in ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran.
As a consequence, the pipeline puts Washington and Islamabad on yet another collision course, since the U.S. needs Pakistan’s help in stabilizing Afghanistan after U.S. and allied troops depart at the end of 2014.
“The U.S.’s dilemma is how to look for a greater stability role from a country that it is now threatening it with collateral sanctions under the U.S. Sanctions Act,” according to Middle East expert Kaveh L. Afrasiabi.
The pipeline originally was supposed to be an Iran-Pakistan-India project. However, India decided to get out of the deal due to U.S. pressure.
Because of its own energy demands now and into the future, however, India may reverse that decision.
Once the pipeline is completed, analysts believe that India may buy into the deal with Iran, given its own rising energy demands.
“We are terribly short of energy supply,” according to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, “and we desperately need new sources of energy.”
Washington is concerned about the deal because it sets an example of defiance to other countries, which until now have adhered to unilateral U.S. sanctions.
As a consequence, the U.S. sees India potentially going against sanctions to meet its energy needs.
“A successful Pakistani bid to overcome U.S. pressure could embolden New Delhi to renew its bid for gas pipeline from Iran,” Afrasiabi said.
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