Iran promises security for tri-nation gas pipeline

New Delhi, August 3:

Iran today said that security concerns on the gas pipeline would be addressed by all three parties including India and Pakistan so that the project can be implemented from 2006.

Iranian deputy oil minister M H Nejad Hosseinian also told journalists here today that political changes in his country were not likely to affect the gas export policy. “The security issue has been discussed right from the beginning. Different groups are working in different ways to address this and we are sure some solution for that would be created in the project structure,” Hosseinian said.

Leading a high-level team, Hosseinian is here for the first joint working group meeting between India and Iran on the proposed cross-border gas pipeline that would transit Pakistan to reach Indian borders. Though seen as fraught with security risks, the three countries are pursuing bilateral talks to ensure a safe and secure world-class project, which is crucial to both India and Pakistan for energy security. Ahead of the first joint working group meeting with the Indian team led by petroleum secretary S C Tripathi today, the Iranian minister held talks with petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar.

Agreeing that gas pricing could be an issue, the Iranian minister said, “It is true that someone will buy something only if the price is viable. Similarly when someone is selling he will do so only if it is viable. Both sides should agree on that.” On possible policy change in Iran once the new government takes charge, Hosseinian said, “Personally, I believe it does not affect the gas policy.”

The two-day long talks would strive to finalise the roadmap and structure of the project to be able to move toward project implementation from 2006, said R Javedi, managing director of National Iranian Gas and Export Company, “Earlier in Pakistan, at the first joint working group meeting, we discussed the project in detail. Here too we will discuss the project in detail. Security is also an issue that would be discussed and addressed.”

While all three countries have set a timeframe of December-end to finalise the framework of the project, the Iranian minister said, “But we have urged the Indian minister to expedite the discussions and decide about the framework for the implementation of the project soon.” The next round of talks between Iran and Pakistan would follow the talks in New Delhi possibly by September-end. India and Pakistan are also scheduled to hold the second round of bilateral talks later this month.