ISLAMABAD - After strongly opposing Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline for years, the United States on Tuesday signalled to review its position on the project only after Iran implements the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“Though the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiations have concluded, the world powers will begin implementing the sanctions relief outlined in the JCPOA only after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verifies that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear -related steps,” the US embassy spokesman told The Nation.

Iran and a group of six nations, led by the United States, on Tuesday reached a landmark deal to significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, Iran holds the world’s fourth-largest crude reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves. After the deal not only international business giants are eyeing new opportunities, but also Pakistan hopes to reap benefits. And Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is the first in the long list.

The US believes the process of lifting sanctions could be time-consuming. “We anticipate that it will take approximately six months to one year. When the IAEA verifies that Iran has taken all the steps necessary to implement the JCPOA, we will provide guidance to governments and businesses regarding the US sanctions on Iran,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman categorically denied any change in its policy on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline until the satisfactory completion of the whole process.

“Ensuring that Iran does not benefit from pre-mature sanctions relief is important in incentivising Iran to fulfil its nuclear commitments to implementation of the JCPOA. We hope we can count on the continued cooperation of our international partners in this regard,” the spokesman observed.

Despite the US opposition, Pakistan has kept the project alive over years, at least in documents. On Tuesday morning before the announcement of the US-Iran deal, Federal Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was telling the standing committee that work on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project would expectedly start in September and Rs 1,000 billion have been allocated for the completion of this project and LNG smart gas. He further said that under the agreement Pakistan would have to lay 700km-long pipeline which might take more than two years.

As per expert estimates, if the US-Iran deal is implemented in one year, the laying of the pipeline would take two years, which means Pakistan would be able to materialse the dream of importing gas from Iran in next 3-4 years if everything works according to the plan.