A Kyrgyz energy expert, Rasul Umbetaliev, commented on the pipeline and noted how Iran and China were the most interested parties. According to him, most of the exports would be destined for China, while Kyrgyzstan, as a transit country, would be lucky to receive its share. That supply would help reduce Kyrgyzstan’s current dependence on gas imports from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Dependence on Uzbek gas was problematic for both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as Uzbekistan routinely interrupted supplies to both countries over payment disputes and and other bilateral political and economic differences.
The initiator of the pipeline project was Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, whose country faced near economic paralysis as a result of gas interruptions from Uzbekistan in April 2012. According to Tajik media, Iran stood ready to help Tajikistan overcome these recurring energy crises if the necessary infrastructure could be built. Citing cultural, linguistic and religious links between the two countries, an independent Tajik journalist, Pairav Chorshanbiev, highlighted how Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reacted to Tajikistan’s energy crisis in April by promptly authorizing emergency fuel supplies. According to Chorshanbiev, Iran pledged its readiness to provide any assistance given Tajikistan’s energy needs. At the same time, there was a sense of wariness about the project’s viability among local observers in light of a call to Central Asian countries to stop cooperation and cut relations with Iran by the US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs, Robert Blake, during his visit to Tajikistan at the end of March 2012.