WASHINGTON: Pakistan risks sparking US sanctions if it pursues its plans with Iran to build a $7.5 billion gas pipeline linking the two nations, a senior US official said in a renewed warning Monday.
“We have serious concerns, if this project actually goes forward, that the Iran Sanctions Act would be triggered,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “We’ve been straight up with the Pakistanis about these concerns.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched the construction of a much-delayed section of the gas pipeline with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari at a ceremony on the border of the two neighbors.
But Nuland added: “We’ve heard this pipeline announced about 10 or 15 times before in the past. So we have to see what actually happens.”
The United States had been seeking alternative plans, saying the move with Iran would take it “in the wrong direction right at a time that we’re trying to work with Pakistan on better, more reliable ways to meet its energy needs.”
Nuland said the US was “supporting large-scale energy projects in Pakistan that will add some 900 megawatts to the power grid by the end of 2013.”
Those projects included renovating the power plants at Tarbela, the Mangla Dam, as well as modernizing others plants and building new dams at Satpara and Gomal Zam, she added.