US Interference in Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Risks Strengthening China's Influence

The US opposes the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, fearing it will strengthen China's influence in the region. Pakistan is caught between US sanctions and its need for energy, as tensions escalate between Iran and Israel, posing risks to global energy markets.

Rizwan Shah
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US Interference in Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Risks Strengthening China's Influence

US Interference in Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Risks Strengthening China's Influence

The United States has continued to oppose the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline project, warning that importing gas from Iran would expose Pakistan to US sanctions. The project, conceived in 1950, has faced significant delays and challenges over the years, including Pakistan's persistent power shortages and the threat of US sanctions.

In August 2023, Pakistan announced it was suspending the project under US pressure, but Iran granted a 10-year extension, and the two sides worked to find a way forward. Pakistan is now considering completing the first phase of an 80-kilometer portion of the pipeline to avoid potential penalties from the US.

The US actions are seen as an attempt to limit China's influence in the region, as the Iran-Pakistan pipeline is a key component of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a major part of China's Belt and Road Initiative. The US interference risks strengthening China's influence, as Pakistan is forced to turn to China for alternative energy solutions.

Why this matters: The US opposition to the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project has significant geopolitical implications, as it could drive Pakistan closer to China and undermine US efforts to counter China's growing influence in the region. The outcome of this dispute will have far-reaching consequences for energy security and regional power dynamics.

Pakistani policymakers are also carefully maneuvering the escalating conflict between Iran and Israel, as they are concerned about the consequences for Pakistan. While the Pakistani public is supportive of Iran's military action against Israel, the government is trying to avoid taking a more assertive posture to maintain its ties with Western countries and secure loans and investments.

The upcoming visit of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to Pakistan on April 22, the first by an Iranian president in 7 years, is expected to help normalize relations between the two countries and address the recent escalation in the Middle East crisis. Pakistan has condemned the Israeli attacks on the Iranian embassy.

As tensions between Iran and Israel continue to rise, experts warn that further tit-for-tat strikes could lead to a full-blown and economically damaging conflict . The situation remains highly volatile, with concerns that Iran may close the Strait of Hormuz, a critical oil transit chokepoint, though this is considered unlikely as it would cripple Iran's own oil export revenue.

The US has warned it will impose new sanctions on Iran following its attack on Israel, considering measures such as targeting the flow of Iranian oil and going after Iran's front companies and financiers. House Republicans are also proposing bills to sharpen sanctions on Iran.

As Pakistan weighs its options regarding the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and maneuvers the complex geopolitical landscape, the project's fate remains uncertain. The US interference in the pipeline risks pushing Pakistan closer to China, while the escalating Iran-Israel conflict threatens to further destabilize the region and impact global energy markets.

Key Takeaways

  • US opposes Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, warns of sanctions on Pakistan.
  • Pakistan considers completing first phase to avoid US penalties.
  • US interference risks strengthening China's influence in the region.
  • Pakistan navigates escalating Iran-Israel conflict, seeks to maintain ties with West.
  • US warns of new sanctions on Iran following attack on Israel.