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Pakistan says it's within its rights to import gas from Iran despite US objections

Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif

Pakistan says it is within its rights to import natural gas from Iran despite objections raised by the United States to fresh attempts by Islamabad to revive a 2009 gas supply agreement with Tehran.

Asif told reporters after a parliament session on Monday that Pakistan has the right to benefit from an economic supply of natural gas from Iran, saying that the US should understand Pakistan’s problems for importing energy at exorbitant prices in international markets.

He said that Iran can supply energy to Pakistan in an easy way and at a fair price.

The minister said that the US should come up with an alternative solution if it is opposed to the gas transfer project from Iran to Pakistan.

The comments come days after US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu told a Congressional hearing that the US government was working to prevent the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. He said that Islamabad had not requested a waiver from US sanctions on Iran to conduct gas trade with its western neighbor.

However, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in response that Pakistan does not need a sanctions waiver to build pipelines to import natural gas from Iran.

Pakistan approved earlier this year to start the construction of an 80-kilometer pipeline from its border with Iran to its southwestern port city of Gwadar. That came just as the country was nearing a deadline set by Iran to start pipeline construction under the 2009 agreement or face international legal action.

Based on the Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement signed in June 2009, Iran would supply 750 million to 1 billion cubic feet (up to 28.3 million cubic meters) per day of natural gas to Pakistan.

However, the project has stalled despite the fact that Iran finished building a 900-kilometer pipeline on its side of the border in 2011 as part of the agreement with Pakistan.

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