Iranian Diplomat Discusses Natural Gas Pipeline

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Iran’s Deputy Ambassador to Armenia–Ali Akbar Jokar discussed the natural gas pipeline running from Iran to Armenian–which is currently under-construction.

Russia’s state-run natural gas monopoly–Gazprom–was reported earlier this year to have secured ownership of the pipeline as part of a controversial settlement of its recent gas dispute with Yerevan. The information was initially confirmed by Gazprom–but subsequently refuted by the Russian giant and senior Armenian officials.

"There are no changes yet in the project," Iran’s deputy ambassador to Armenia–Ali Akbar Jokar–insisted on Tuesday. "Changes may only happen with the consent of all parties [to the project.]"

Asked whether his government would object to the possible change of pipeline ownership–Jokar said–"Since there is nothing concrete–such a prediction can not be made at this point."

Work on the first 40 kilometer section of the pipeline–financed by a $34 million Iranian loan–began late last year and is scheduled to be complete by next January. Armenian and Iranian officials say the construction is proceeding according to plan.

The pipeline will ease Armenia’s strong energy dependence on Russia–presently its sole supplier of gas.

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