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Pakistan-Iran pipeline defies U.S.

March 11, 2013 at 4:37 PM

ISLAMABAD, March 11 (UPI) -- Construction of a natural gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan began Monday on the Pakistani side, with the United States warning it could lead to sanctions.

The long-delayed pipeline to deliver natural gas to Pakistan, nearly complete on the Iranian side, is seen as a way to alleviate Pakistan's chronic energy shortages. The United States has said the project could incur sanctions with Iran's nuclear program, the BBC reported Monday.

Some analysts say the pipeline is demonstration of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's assertiveness, on the grounds Pakistan will be crucial to U.S. interests as NATO-led forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the BBC noted.

A total of 485 miles of pipe is expected to be built through Pakistan. Zardari and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were seen on local television Monday, shaking hands at the ceremony at the Iranian-Pakistani border.

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