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US threatens Pakistan with sanctions over Iran gas pipeline

Pipeline undermines US hegemony in the region

The US has threatened Islamabad with sanctions over Pakistan’s partnership with Iran to construct a section of a gas pipeline. Washington said that the much-delayed $7.5-billion project violates sanctions on Iran, a claim denied by Pakistan.

Iran and Pakistan expect the completed pipeline will deliver 21.5 million cubic meters (760,000 million cubic feet) of gas per day to Pakistan from its giant offshore South Pars field in the Persian Gulf by December 2014.

Iranian contractors will construct the pipeline, which crosses Pakistani territory. Tehran has agreed to lend Islamabad $500 million, one-third of the estimated $1.5 billion cost of the 750-kilometer pipeline, according to Fars news agency.

After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari launched the project on Monday on the Iran-Pakistan Border, the US threatened to respond with sanctions if the project “actually goes forward.”

“We have serious concerns if this project actually goes forward that the Iran Sanctions Act would be triggered,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, commenting on the so-called ‘peace pipeline.’

Iran has completed 900 kilometers of the pipeline’s segment on its side of the border with Pakistan. Monday’s ceremony marked the beginning of work on the Pakistani segment, which will start at the Iranian town of Chahbahar near the border.

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