March 11 - Ahmadinejad and Zardari attend ground-breaking ceremony of gas pipeline amid concerns that project could lead to US sanctions on Pakistan. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
The presidents of Iran and Pakistan mark the start of construction on a much-delayed gas pipeline, despite U.S. pressure on Islamabad to back out of the project. The US has steadfastly opposed Pakistani and Indian involvement in the project, saying it could violate sanctions imposed on Iran. It's called the "peace pipeline". The $7 billion project has faced repeated delays since it was conceived in the 1990s to connect Iran's gas field to India via Pakistan. India quit the project in 2009, citing costs and security, a year after it signed a nuclear deal with Washington. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says no one has anything to fear from the pipeline. (SOUNDBITE) (Farsi) IRANIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, SAYING: "Those foreign elements who are against the progress of the region, use the excuse of our nuclear program to hinder the progress of Iran. I want to tell those people that the gas pipeline has no connection whatsoever with the nuclear case. With natural gas you cannot make atomic bombs. That's why there is no excuse for opposing this pipeline because it is for the peace, progress and security of the region." As the two countries celebrate they hope to start delivering gas to Pakistan by December 2014.