State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland has reiterated US threats to impose economic sanctions on Pakistan if it dares to follow through on the oft-delayed plans to build a gas pipeline to neighboring Iran.
“If this project actually goes forward, that the Iran Sanctions Act would be triggered,” Nuland noted, insisting that they have been “straight up with the Pakistanis” about that fact.
Nuland has regularly presented Pakistanis with a choice between sanctions and US help in overcoming its energy crisis, which is choking the nation’s economy and is the prime mover behind the pipeline. The US pledges never seem to materialize, however, though they have caused several delays to the pipeline.
In the end, Pakistan may find itself in a position to call the administration’s bluff on sanctions, as the US almost certainly will not risk tit-for-tat sanctions that could close the Pakistani supply route into occupied Afghanistan. The final decision may hinge on the results of Pakistan’s upcoming election, however, and whether forces calling for economy independence through trade and industry can top the factions hoping for US handouts to finally materialize.