Monday, January 30, 2006

‘Iran gas pipeline is now dead’

India has moved to secure the fate of a rickety nuclear deal with Washington by replacing its pro-Iranian oil minister with a reformist seen as having close US contacts, analysts say.

Murli Deora was handed the key post on Sunday in a surprise move, pushing aside Mani Shankar Aiyar who was a strong supporter of a projected gas pipeline from Iran - something which the Indian foreign ministry was not comfortable with and which is opposed by the United States.

Ruling Congress party sources say Deora, who currently co-chairs a India-U.S. parliamentarian forum according to his Web site (, is known to have "deep contacts" in the US Senate and business circles.

With his pro-reformist image, analysts say Deora will take energy-starved India further Westwards in oil diplomacy.