LATEST: Journalist Naghipour Free on Prison Furlough
SUMMARY: Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh indicated on Wednesday that Iran is halting a flagship pipeline project: “The contract for supplying gas to Pakistan is likely to be annulled.”
Zanganeh, speaking on the sidelines of a gas forum in Tehran, did not offer further details.
The multi-billion-dollar pipeline is almost complete on the Iranian side, but construction of the 780-kilometer (485-mile) section in Pakistan has been hindered over financing and US pressure on Islamabad.
Tehran has already constructed more than 900 of the 1100 kilometers of the pipeline inside Iran.
Iranian media had hailed the visit of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in March, inaugurating the border section of the pipeline, as a breakthrough for the project. Their optimism soured this month, however, with claims that Islamabad asked Tehran this month for $2 billion to advance construction.
Zanganeh’s statement followed a declaration by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry this week that Islamabad is still pursung the pipeline: “It should be seen in the context of acute energy crisis that we have in our country.”
The initial proposal was for a 2700-kilometer (1700-mile) pipeline to supply gas for Pakistan and India, but Delhi declined to join talks. In 2011, Iran and Pakistan declared they would proceed.
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Journalist Naghipour Free on Prison Furloughhas been released on furlough from prison.
Naghipour is a well-known figure in the design of Iranian websites. He was arrested in March 2010. He was freed three months later but was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of membership in the Human Rights Activists News Agency — even though HRANA say he has never been part of the organization — and propaganda against the regime.
Naghipour was summoned in July 2011 to serve his sentence.
Mixed News on Inflation — Annual Rate at 36%
The Iranian Statistical Center has issued a mixed report on inflation: the annual rate has increased slightly to 36.2%; however, the trend is downwards, with point-to-point inflation falling by 4.7% to 32.3%.
Police Chief: New Programs to Strengthen Border Guards After 14 Killed by Insurgents
Iran’s Chief of Police, Esmail Ahmadi Moqaddam, has said that new programs are underway to strengthen border units, days after the revelation that Sunni insurgents had killed 14 guards in the southeast of the country.
The group Jaish ul-Adl, formed last year, attacked the border guards near Saravan in Sistan and Baluchestan Province.
“Police are considering how to reinforce the regional law enforcement units, stage exercises, upgrade the training level, and accelerate border sealing,” Ahmadi Moqaddam said on Wednesday.
He blamed foreign powers for sponsoring the attack, “The enemy is not happy to see the Islamic Republic of Iran is a safe place.”