US warns Pakistan of Iran pipeline deal
The US media has warned that the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline might lead to sanctions against Islamabad, although the State Department says sanctions will only become effective if Pakistan finalises the deal.
President Asif Ali Zardari announced on Saturday and again on Sunday that his government would continue to pursue the 7.5 billion-dollar project despite America's opposition.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report that Pakistan risked imposition of stringent US and UN sanctions if the proposed Iran-Pakistan pipeline deal went through. Other US media outlets too joined in warning Pakistan that the US would not hesitate to impose sanctions if the deal was concluded, reports The Dawn.
But the US State Department has been more cautious in using warning threats against Pakistan to force it to abandon the gas pipeline deal.
Three times this week, State Department's spokesman Patrick Ventrell was asked if the US was ready to impose sanctions on Pakistan and each time he pointed out that the deal had not yet been finalised.
In each briefing, he also underlined Pakistan's acute energy needs and said the US was ready to offer better alternatives to the Iran pipeline.
Iran has already built more than 900 kilometres of the pipeline on its soil and is also offering financial assistance to Pakistan for construction on its side.
The US, however, believes that the project violates sanctions on Iran's nuclear programme.
In his latest comments, Ventrell warned that finalising the deal would indeed cause serious violations of America's sanction laws.
He said that as a current member of the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors and of the UN Security Council, Pakistan had "an obligation to join multilateral efforts to convince Iran to adhere to international nuclear obligations".