Pipelines Aplenty: Iranian official announces plan for second Iran-Armenia gas line

While the first Iran-Armenia gas pipeline is still under construction, representatives of the countries this week discussed plans for a second one.

Last Monday and Tuesday (September 11-12), Speaker of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Gholam-Ali-Haddad-Adel led a delegation from Tehran to Yerevan, where he announced the pipeline plans during a joint-press conference with National Assembly Chairman, Tigran Torosyan.

The first Armenian-Iranian pipeline construction, which is supposed to be completed by the end of the year, should have had great strategic significance. Besides the fact that it promised benefits in terms of Armenian-Iranian cooperation, the pipeline was supposed to create an opportunity to export Iranian gas to Europe through the territory of RA, which was also highly significant for Armenia’s economic and political development.

But, above all, the pipeline was meant to guarantee Armenia’s energetic independence from Russia.

However, the sweet dreams of energy independence vanished on June 30, when the Russian “Gazprom” company representative re-declared the company’s intention and concrete plans to purchase the pipeline.

(See also http://www.armenianow.com/?action=viewArticle&IID=1090&CID=1731&AID=1615&lng=arm

The Russians announced they’d buy the pipeline. And though the deal has not been confirmed by the Armenian side, it is also understood that the Russian plan would not allow Armenia to transport gas, therefore negating its chance for transit fees.

The second pipeline would make export possible.

The Russian-related news did not sit well in Tehran, and became a topic of conversation when Armenian President Robert Kocharyan visited Iran, July 5.

And, while Tehran apparently has concerns, so do members of Armenia’s opposition.

Suren Surenyants, political analyst of the Republic political party, told ArmeniaNow that plans of a second pipeline are “just talk”. “Even the first pipeline’s destiny is absolutely in limbo yet.”

Surenyants sarcastically voiced a mounting concern among political analysts and others in Armenia, centered on Armenia’s growing dependency on Russia.

“Apparently, Armenia’s foreign affairs are determined in the Kremlin,” Surenyants said. “Consequently even the high-ranking Parliament Speaker of isolated Iran is hardly apt to discuss relevant matters with Armenia, without the Kremlin’s permission.”

Assembly Chairman Torosyan, however, says the proposed pipeline is exemplary.

“The Armenian-Iranian relations should serve an example for the whole territory, despite the religious differences of the two nations,” Torosyan says. “It is very important, that the Armenian-Iranian relations progress, especially in the field of power engineering, which is of strategic significance.”