American concerns on the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline

Building a pipeline through Pakistan is folly, more so if it disregards America’s express concerns

David Mulford, the American ambassador to India, met India’s ambitious petroleum minister and advised him to hold off signing a gas pipeline deal with Iran for at least another six months.

While it is easy to see Mulford’s advice as part of the United States’ combative strategy to contain Iran or even as its attempt to corner Middle Eastern energy supplies, it should give the Indian government pause, as it proceeds, enthusiastically but recklessly, to embark on an very unwise venture.

Most of the previous arguments against the pipeline have dealt with the implications of its transit through Pakistan — from Pakistan’s inability to guarantee its safety to its ability, nay inclination, to use it as a tool for coercive diplomacy. Giving Pakistan the ability to throttle the Indian economy and then expecting it not to do so is not the best of ideas to ‘secure’ India’s future energy supplies.

This does not, however, mean that there are no concerns about ‘supplier risk’. Iran’s relationship with the United States is in a state of flux, and its nuclearisation, should it happen, has profound implications for India too. As long as the Iranian regime remains at loggerheads with the United States, it is not prudent to enter into deals that require investment in long-term fixed infrastructure. That does not mean India has to yield to American pressure on how it conducts its relations with Iran.

The best alternative India has at this moment is to invest in gas terminals that can receive and process tanker-based supplies. The investment in these terminals is supplier independent. So while they can be used to process liquified natural gas (LNG) that arrives by sea from Iran, they are not restricted to that source alone. This makes sense even as India goes further afield in search of energy.

The Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline is an idea whose time has not yet come. India’s loony Left lives up to its description when it argues that India must push ahead with the project simply because America is against it.

Even as relations between India and United States improve, it may not be always wise to do America’s bidding, but it would certainly unwise not to heed its warnings on Iran.

4 thoughts on “American concerns on the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline”

  1. I have always argued for the pipeline project, on the assumption that we will have a give-or-pay agreement (which apparently is standard in any such deal). The idea was that Iran would take the responsibility of reining in Pak. Iran has indicated that it will not do so by refusing the give-or-pay clause. Further as a policy Iran refuses to export “rich” gas – gas from which petrochemicals like propane and butane can be extracted.

    Worldwide, where energy is concerned, security takes precedence over price – and if Iran cannot guarantee security of suppy, the deal is male cow manure.

    On the other hand, if Mulford can assure us that a six month wait will be worth it – well why not? 🙂 Dont know if we have much to lose from this stage!

  2. I believe this is the most important step in combating the energy needs of these countries for the future well being of their countries. Why listen to a dictator such as the usa and the crony rice which are at unease with this project as these countries will become more potlically and socially alinged with the project and that is what america most fears. We all need to understand that the threat is mounting to the people of these countries as usa wants to control everything so speedly implementation needs to take place to ensure the economic well being of all three as usa will take if not utilised.
    We all brothers in this region of asia and by working together to utilise the resources at our disposal in an appropriate manner can we ensure that we are not cheated by the greed of the few in america and to create a better social balance in the area. The enemies of the free thinker and the asian region only want to divide and conquer with refernce to rices comments on india should look for alternative supply links na mate no one truth u

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