Within two days of giving a deadline to India, Iran said on Thursday that Indian government could take its own time to decide when it should formally join the $7.4-billion Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline project.
On Tuesday, Nosratollah Seifi, managing director of the National Iranian Gas Exports Company had threatened deadline to India and told to sign the agreement for the IPI project a time frame of 3-4 months maximum. Seifi had also said that Iran and Pakistan already finalized the details of the pipeline agreement and they could not wait for India for more than three or four months.
Now, Iranian oil minister Gholamhossein Nozari has said that India was bound with its own interests in the project. Iran and Pakistan have expected and welcomed India to join the project. Iran has never set any deadline and will not set any deadline for India to join the project.
Gholamhossein Nozari said:
We consider India to be a big country with a big historical capability and background. The Iranian nation has great respect and admiration for Mahatma Gandhi and India’s freedom struggle from British colonial rule.
We believe India is big enough not to be pressured by anyone and big enough to take decisions on its own. As far as US pressure on India is concerned, New Delhi haven’t told us about this so, Iran doesn’t believe that the IPI project is under US pressure at present.
Nozari further said that India and Pakistan have some differences over certain issues including transit fees. He expressed hope that both the countries would resolve the differences as soon as possible.
The natural gas pipeline project, also known as the Peace Pipeline, has been negotiating since the mid-1990s. The project involves the agreement to build a 2,775 km pipeline to carry natural gas from South Pars field in Iran to first Pakistan and then to India.
The estimated cost of the project is more than $7 billion. It would likely take three to five years to complete the building of pipeline. The pipeline could deliver 30 million cubic meters (1 billion cubic feet) of Iranian natural gas a day.