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Iran, it appears, may have too little gas to offer and at too expensive a price. The controversy-ridden $7-billion Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline project is fast beginning to lose economic value for India and New Delhi is toughening its stand. It has made it clear that the deal can only go through if Pakistan is willing to accept a lower transit and transportation charge, which will have a direct bearing on the price of the gas.

The IPI project, which has been on the drawing board for almost a decade, was just beginning to take shape with the three nations slated to give a formal political stamp of approval by June 30.

Meanwhile, The United States has informed the Indian government that it is opposed to the building of a pipeline to carry gas from Iran to India via Pakistan, US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said. 

“During my trip, I have made it clear at the highest levels of the Indian government that the US opposes the development of the Iranian pipeline to India,” he said, a private Indian news channel “NDTV” reported here. 

Bodman, in India on a three-day official visit, told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview that the US opposition to the project was linked to concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. 

Asked why the US is opposed to the pipeline, Bodman said, “We believe that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, and anything that will support that endeavour is something that we oppose.” Earlier, US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said at a Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) meeting here Tuesday that India’s pacts with Iran will not hamper Indo-US relations. 

India’s Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, who also met Bodman, said the US official did not raise any objections to the seven billion dollar pipeline or the LNG deal that New Delhi is negotiating with Tehran. “There was no opposition on the pipeline… It (pipeline) is in a very initial stage,” Deora told reporters here. 

Asked whether Bodman raised any objection on India’s LNG deal with Iran, he said Washington had nothing to do with it. 

India favors diplomatic efforts to resolve the standoff on Iran’s nuclear program. 

 

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