Pakistan has asked Iran to clarify its interpretation of the sanctions imposed on itself to continue the long-delayed mega Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. However, chances are aplenty that the project may become a casualty to the sanctions that have delayed the project times before.
The Inter-State Gas System (ISGS) Managing Director, Mobeen Saulat, said that Islamabad cannot proceed on the project because of the sanctions. But the Iranian Petroleum Ministry has their own interpretation of the sanctions. “So we have engaged them in the process to understand the [sanctions] interpretation of each other,” said the ISGS official.
Apparently, Tehran believes that the IP project does not fall under the umbrella of the imposed sanctions. Therefore, Pakistan has communicated to the country that it will have to provide a ‘detailed clarity in writing’ regarding its interpretation of the sanctions.
“We cannot go ahead with the project with their verbal interpretation. They have agreed to provide us a detailed reply,” said the MD. He told that as soon as the government receives an explanation regarding the sanctions’ regime, they would study and evaluate it in depth. If the clarification seems justified, the issue can be resolved.
Given the continued delay in the project, Tehran formally issued a notice to Islamabad in February. It warned of going to an arbitration court if Pakistan does not lay down the pipeline under the bilateral agreement.
According to a local media report, Prime Minister Imran Khan has sent letters to the US and the leaders of the European Union seeking their views on the pipeline. Pakistan officially declared its inability to continue the project on May 10. However, the Pakistani premier told the US and the EU countries that ‘Pakistan is committed to executing the project, but only if international sanctions on Iran are lifted.’
Delayed IP Gas Pipeline Project
For the past four years, the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project has been in the doldrums because of the international sanctions on Iran, both multilateral and the unilateral, imposed by the UN, the US, UK, EU, and Canada. Under this project, Pakistan was expected to get 750 MMCF of natural gas from Iran daily.
The work on the project is complete from Iran’s side while Pakistan’s side still awaits completion. Pakistan inaugurated the construction work on the project in 2013 and projected it to complete within 22 months. However, no headway could be achieved even after six years.
According to Iran, Pakistan has to pay $200 million per month because of its failure to complete its side of the bargain.