Iran Presses On With Gas Pipeline to Armenia

ATHENS (combined sources)–Iran’said on Thursday it was pressing forward with the construction of a natural gas pipeline linking it with Armenia.

"It’s a very important project because Iran is considered as one of the main producers of natural gas–but it has to transfer the gas,” Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told reporters outside a trilateral meeting between Greece–Armenia and Iran.

Kharrazi said the project was ”feasible and in the process of being prepared for signing and the European Union is ready to fund it.” A private Greek engineering company drew up the pre-feasibility study. Last month–the EU granted Armenia 3 million Euros to help create a consortium to construct the pipeline.

The pipeline is intended to help impoverished Armenia overcome a chronic natural gas shortage–a problem that Kharrazi said will worsen when plans go ahead to shut down the country’s only nuclear reactor. ”Armenia is negotiating to move the nuclear plant–so they need gas,” Kharrazi said.

The pipeline could also form part of a key natural gas route from Iran to Armenia–Georgia–the Ukraine and on to Western Europe. Another possible route would go through Turkey and Greece. Iran and the Ukraine last month agreed to consider the plan.

The Iranian Foreign Minister–whose country will host the next meeting of foreign ministers–said the three countries could only benefit from working together–especially in the energy sector.

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