New Delhi, June 14, IRNA-Prominent Indian energy expert R K Batra said in New Delhi on Tuesday the gas deal concluded by the Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and his Iranian counterpart Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, is excellent for India.
"It makes great economic sense to have gas from Iran. The price, period and the terms of the deal are satisfactory", Batra told IRNA.
Under the deal, India will buy five million tons of Iranian gas annually for 25 years.
The supplies will begin in 2009. The agreement is part of a package in which Indian companies will be allowed to participate in developing two oil and one gas fields in Iran.
The energy expert, who has been a former director of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, said, "Nuclear energy is not the answer for India's energy security."
Asked about the possible energy-related outcome of the coming visit of the United States by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Batra said, "The US attitude to the deal is important. Mani Shankar Aiyar has said that the US wants peace in the region and one way to have peace is to allow countries to share energy resources that is so vital for their development. Iran, Pakistan and India are all developing economies and they require energy."
Regarding the reports of the United States threatening Pakistan with sanctions if it decides to go ahead with the pipeline project, Batra said, "The Pakistani prime minister sounded upbeat regarding the deal while speaking on TV.
"Therefore there is no reflection of that threat anywhere in Pakistan." However he accepted that as far the pipeline deal is concerned Pakistan is under greater pressure from the United States.
Batra said, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act in the United States can not be applied against the gas pipeline project.
According to Batra, with each participant in the gas pipeline project investing to construct their part of the pipeline, there would be no violation of the US act.
Batra added, "The ball of energy is in the Pakistani court. India has moved the halfway mark and secured the LNG deal and gone a certain distance regarding the the piped gas project. Gas from Iran would benefit India more than Pakistan. Pakistan is yet to start its movement toward the gas pipeline project."
Asked how could India neutralize the negative US attention to the Iran-India gas pipeline, Batra said, "There are some moments when backchannel diplomacy pays. There is nothing bad in getting gas from Iran when the normalization procedure is going on in international arena.
"Even during the Cold War era, the Soviet Union supplied piped energy to Western Europe and the United States did not oppose it.
There is no ground to oppose Iran-India gas pipeline project. Let us see how the dialogue moves ahead."
"In the field of civilian nuclear cooperation between the United States and India, there are a few hurdles. India is not a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and there are a few other technical difficulties in the engagement," Batra said.
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