Delhi wakes up to pipeline, Tehran cold | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Delhi wakes up to pipeline, Tehran cold

delhi Updated: Oct 18, 2010 01:28 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times
Jayanth Jacob

After a break of two years, New Delhi is eager to revive the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, but Tehran is giving India the cold shoulder.

Working around a host of political issues that had brought the lull, India had proposed a meeting of the joint working group between the two countries to discuss IPI last May.

The dates for the meeting had been conveyed between May 24 and 29 for the meeting. But at the last moment, Iran insisted the meeting be held in Tehran as the last meeting of the group was in Delhi, government sources said.

India didn't cite any objections, and both sides then agreed to scout for a convenient date in September. "Since Tehran was hosting the meet, they were to inform us about the modalities. But there is no communication from them yet," said an official.

The revival of the project, that was hostage to political issues including Iran's protest over India voting against it in the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The recent bonhomie between the two nations included India strongly opposing recent sanctions on Iran for its nuclear programme.

Politics apart, the meeting of the group is important as India also has to iron out pricing issues with Iran. Security

issues with Pakistan through which the pipeline enters the country remain to be addressed.

"There are two issues that need to be sorted out, pricing as well as the security issues of the pipeline. On the price front, Iran hasn't been consistent and that issue has to be tackled to ensure that it is a viable project," the official said.

New Delhi hopes Iran will stick to the price agreed between them in 2007. Initially, the gas price was fixed at $ 3.2 per mmBtu—that went up to $4.93 per m m Btu. "The figure was mutally agreed upon, then Iran had revised the price to $8.3. The question here is viability, considering the price will further go up if you include the transportation costs," he explained.

But officials are hopeful that "India and Iran can move together and address the issues considering the historical ties between the two nations".