After persistently denying that the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline was facing problems due to New Delhi's attitude, Tehran on Thursday admitted that this project was “stalled'' as far as India was concerned.
Although Iran has problems with its civil nuclear energy plans leading to four rounds of U.N. sanctions, it cited the accident at Japan's Fukushima plant to stress that the role of fossil energy had become even more important, thereby indicating the need for India to revive its enthusiasm for the project.
Iranian officials, here for talks with the Indian leadership, also put the security concerns regarding the IPI project in perspective. They wanted to know if the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline would not face security issues in not one (Pakistan) but two countries (Afghanistan as well). “The question is whether those concerns don't exist with respect to TAPI? The discussions on the IPI have been stalled. So Iran and Pakistan are bilaterally pushing the idea. The option for India to join is open,” said the officials.
On the security concerns about the IPI because it would pass through Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province, the officials pointed out that on the contrary, earnings from transit fees and spin-off benefits would ensure development. This would reduce restiveness among the locals because “may be you can say the lack of security had somehow stopped development. We feel Baluchistan, which forms a large part of Pakistan, will be helped by the pipeline.”
In five years, India would become the fourth largest consumer of energy. This spike in demand would come at a time when international faith in civil nuclear plants is low. “Right now, all civil nuclear long-term projects in Europe are stalled. The demand for gas is increasing. As we know the nature of the political leadership in India, we are confident they will take the best decision,” the officials said.
The visiting team is led by Deputy Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Bagheri. He had discussions with Deputy National Security Adviser Latha Reddy and met National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.