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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has met with Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Reza Gillani to discuss the construction of a gas pipeline from Iran to India. The Real News Analyst Pepe Escobar calls this “one of the most important energy developments of 2008,” because it shows that Asian countries that have good relations with the US, such as India and Pakistan, are willing to do business with Iran, despite Washington’s attempts to isolate the country.

Story Transcript

VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Pakistan on Monday for a brief visit, in which the two countries were expected to discuss Afghanistan and a pipeline project opposed by the United States. Ahmadinejad met Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Reza Gillani. A key subject of their meeting is expected to be the pipeline which Pakistan and India are considering building to import natural gas from Iran. It would run 2,615 kilometers from Iran to India through Pakistan and would initially carry 60 million cubic meters of gas a day. The proposed project has been hit by delays since Iran proposed it in the 1990s, mainly because of Indian concerns for the safety of sections of the pipeline that will run through Pakistan, India’s rival for more than half a century. The US opposes the project because it fears it will weaken efforts to isolate Iran over it’s disputed nuclear program, which Tehran insists is for power generation. Pakistan has said Iran has a right to peaceful nuclear technology. It has called for resolving the Iranian nuclear standoff peacefully without sanctions. For further commentary, we go to Real News Analyst Pepe Escobar.

PEPE ESCOBAR, THE REAL NEWS ANALYST: Make no mistake: this is one of the most important energy developments of 2008. There are four words to understand what’s happening: Asian Energy Security Grid. This means Asian integration, energy integration, from the Middle East, Southwest Asia where Iran is, to South Asia—India and Pakistan—and also China, which is another part of the equation. This pipeline is a $7.6 billion project. It started in the ’90s; it was thought about in the ’90s. There were many, many problems, basically because of American opposition and Indian misgivings because the pipeline will traverse Baluchistan, and there is an independence-separatist movement in Baluchistan which could eventually even blow up the pipeline. But now the Indians saw that this is their best option, and the Pakistanis have assured the security of the pipeline—For Iran this is absolutely crucial. In 2008, Iran becomes a gas exporter. Although it has one of the largest gas reserves in the world, it was not exporting gas. This starts this year. And with this deal, we’re talking about Asian Energy Security Grid. That means Asian integration. Iran sees this as—I quote from Iranian sources—”interdependence of Asia and Persian Gulf geo-eco-politics.” So this is a very, very huge political and economic project. It’s very good for Iran in terms of Asian integration. It’s good for Pakistan, because Pakistan will receive transit fees. It’s good for India, that will get the gas. The pipeline will be extended to Bangladesh in the near future as well. So while the Bush administration goes on with demonization of Iran, in Southwest Asia and in South Asia they are doing energy deals. This is how the world really works.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil is the roving correspondent for Asia Times and an analyst for The Real News Network. He's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, based in London, Milan, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, and Bangkok. Since the late 1990s, he has specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central Asia, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has made frequent visits to Iran and is the author of Globalistan and also Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad During the Surge both published by Nimble Books in 2007.