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Oman's plan to build a $1 billion natural-gas pipeline from Iran is the latest sign that Saudi Arabia is failing to bind its smaller Gulf neighbors into a tighter bloc united in hostility toward the Islamic Republic.The accord was signed during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to Oman last month and marks the first such deal between Iran and a Gulf Cooperation Council state in more than a decade. Gas from Iran may arrive as early as 2017, Oman's Oil Minister Mohammad al-Rumhy said this month. Oman will pay for the pipeline, which will extend from the Iranian province of Hormuzgan to Sohar in Oman, and some of the gas may be re-exported to neighboring countries, his Iranian counterpart Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said in March. The U.S., which imposes penalties for trade with Iran, hasn't commented on Oman's plan.Unlike the Saudis, the Omanis don't see Iran as a threat, which is one reason why Oman has shied away from Saudi Arabia's plans for a Gulf Union, according to Coline Schep, a London-based Middle East analyst at Control Risks.
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