The United States on Wednesday warned Pakistan of "damaging consequences" if it went ahead with the ambitious Iran-Pak gas pipeline, which would be against the global sanctions against Iran.
"We believe that actually beginning the construction of such a pipeline either as an Iranian project or as a joint project would violate our Iran sanctions law," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing.
"So, you know, we all know what the consequences of that are, and it would be particularly damaging to Pakistan because their economy is already quite shaky," she said.
The top diplomat said the additional pressure on Pakistan that "the United States would be compelled to apply would further undermine their economic status".
The secretary of state was responding to a question from Congressman Jerry Lewis on US response to Pakistan's insistence that it would go ahead with the Iran gas pipeline project.
She made it clear that as the US was "ratcheting up pressure on Iran, it seems somewhat inexplicable that Pakistan would be trying to negotiate a pipeline."
Clinton said the US recognises that Pakistan has significant energy requirements, and for the last three years Washington has been working to help them upgrade their existing energy infrastructure, to look at potential new sources of energy.
Clinton said the proposed Pakistan-Iran pipeline, if built, could raise serious concerns under the Iran Sanctions Act.
"We have made that absolutely clear. We have raised this issue with the government of Pakistan. We are encouraging it to seek alternatives," the secretary of state said.
She said there is an alternative that US "strongly support -- the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline."
"So we think that that is a better alternative both in terms of predictability and to avoid doing business with Iran. Now, if and when this pipeline goes beyond just talk, then we will address it consistent with US law and policies," Clinton underlined.