Absolutely opposed to Iran pipeline, says US

Washington, Jan 5 | Updated: Jan 6 2006, 05:35am hrs
The United States said it was absolutely opposed to a natural gas pipeline project linking Iran with Pakistan and India, even though it was seen as feasible by an Asian Development Bank (ADB) expert. The 2,600-kilometre gas pipeline is estimated to cost over $7 billion.

The US government supports multiple pipelines from that (the Caspian) region but remains absolutely opposed to pipelines involving Iran, senior state department official Steven Mann told a forum in Washington on Wednesday night.

Mr Mann, the special negotiator for Eurasian conflicts in the State Departments Bureau of European Affairs, spoke after an ADB expert told the forum that the pipeline and another planned project linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan were both feasible.

Dan Millison, ADBs senior energy specialist, said at the meeting organised by Johns Hopkins University that his assessment was based purely on economic grounds India, Pakistan and Iran hope to conclude a deal by June 2006 despite US Opposition. They plan to hold further talks in February in Tehran.

The Iran-Pakistan-India options appear viable and competitive versus liquified natural gas, Mr Millison said, and added that although the 1,680-kilometre trans-Afghan gas pipeline was shorter and cheaper, India and Pakistan were moving forward with the project with Iran.