Iran says Caspian states should agree before pipeline construction begins
Iran believes that all five nations on the Caspian Sea should first reach agreement before construction begins on oil
and gas export pipelines from the region, an official said.
"Iran is against any pipeline through the Caspian without the determination of the legal status," Ali Majedi, Iran's deputy energy minister.
Disputes over the status of the Caspian Sea have for years delayed the building of a major export pipeline needed to deliver the oil and gas to world markets.
The five states on the Caspian _ Iran, Turkmenistan, Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan _ have yet to reach agreement
on how to divide up the sea.
In addition, the United States has pushed hard for its own preferred oil pipeline route, which would run from Azerbaijan to Turkey.
Majedi said that Iran demands equal division of the Caspian seabed among all five states. Such a division would work in Iran's favour because the bulk of the Caspian oil is located off the coasts of other nations, primarily Azerbaijan andKazakhstan.
Majedi said Iran also continues to call for joint use of the sea waters. In addition, Iran has ecological concerns related to any pipelines crossing under the sea, he added.
The Iranian said a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Iran to Turkey would be the most economical option.
However, the Americans oppose any pipelines going through Iran because they fear it would give Tehran too much control over resources in the region.