Washington, Oct. 25 (Reuters): US treasury secretary Henry Paulson will soon urge Indian officials not to move forward with a planned pipeline project that would bring Iranian natural gas to India, a senior official said today.
“We’re hoping that India won’t move forward on this,” the US treasury undersecretary for international affairs, David McCormick, told a news briefing ahead of Paulson’s four-day trip to India.
“We think at a time when the world should be imposing greater discipline on its interactions with (Iranian) companies and financial institutions and the Iranian government more broadly, that this is not the right path forward.”
Earlier today, the US imposed more sanctions on Iran, including its Revolutionary Guards Corps and business establishments, citing links to terrorism and weapons proliferation.
McCormick said the project would do little to provide energy security for India. He said that would be better achieved by proceeding with a deal with the US that would provide India with civilian nuclear technology and bring it into the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Although he listed discussing ways for India to move forward on the Doha round of global trade talks as a top priority for Paulson, he said the trip was not a trade mission.
“Secretary Paulson’s trip is not in any way focused on negotiations around trade. His message will be simply reinforcing what the President has said, and that’s that Doha is enormously important, and that we simply can’t let it fail,” McCormick said.
Paulson said on Wednesday that India could play a leadership role in a Doha trade deal if it were to show willingness to provide more access to its non-agricultural markets, especially services.
Sanctions on Tehran
In total, Washington imposed sanctions on more than 20 Iranian companies, major banks and individuals as well as the defence ministry in a bid to force Tehran to stop uranium enrichment.
“Today, secretary Paulson and I are announcing several new steps to increase the costs to Iran of its irresp- onsible behaviour,” said secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.