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Cablegate: Iran-Russia-Venezuela Triangle Threatens Regional

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PP RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #2132/01 3171441
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 131441Z NOV 07 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0429
INFO RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 0012
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6402
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4378
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5121
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RUEHGE/AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN 1361
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 5760
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 3635
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7095
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0343
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2339
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 6532
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 7356
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 5418
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 1158
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BRASILIA 002132

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D COPY - ADDRESSEES ADDED

SIPDIS

UNVIE FOR AMB GREG SHULTE
DOE FOR DOE/NNSA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/07/2017
TAGS: PREL MASS BR VE XR RS IR
SUBJECT: IRAN-RUSSIA-VENEZUELA TRIANGLE THREATENS REGIONAL
STABILITY

REF: BUENOS AIRES 2191

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Classified By: Ambassador Clifford M. Sobel, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary. Iran, Russia, and Venezuela are involved
in an open and growing collaboration with a common purpose to
make more arms available to radical populist governments and
spread anti-American ideology in the region, according to the
chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations and National Defense
committee. He is "truly concerned" and urges the USG to be
more engaged "before it is too late." The chairman said
presidential foreign policy adviser Marco Aurelio Garcia
strongly recommended Ahmadinejad visit Brazil. Chairman
Fortes surmised that Foreign Minister Celso Amorim was less
receptive to the visit. Fortes noted that with the
increasing wealth of oil-producing states, there are some
that will support Russian arms purchases, and in
conversation, the Deputy Minister alluded that perhaps
Ecuador and even Brazil could become beneficiaries. End
summary.

2. (C) During a November 5 phone call, Senator Heraclito
Fortes (Democrats Party, opposition; of Piaui) asked the
Ambassador to meet with him urgently to raise a matter he
could not discuss on the telephone. In a meeting that
afternoon, which continued the next morning, Fortes told the
Ambassador, poloff, and assistant army attache that he is
"truly concerned" about Iranian and Venezuelan activities in
the region, including financing "friendship organizations"
between congresses and even potentially financing arms sales.
He described a recent meeting with the Iranian Deputy
Minister for Petroleum and former Ambassador to Brazil who
sought "cooperation" with Brazil, the nature of which
"depends on Brazil." (Note: This is Dr. Mansour Moazami,
Iranian Ambassador to Brazil from 2000 until about 2003. End
note.) He spoke of Iran's growing relationship with
Venezuela and Ecuador and even indicated that the recent trip
of President Putin to Iran was extremely successful and dealt
with many of the difficult issues that had to be resolved.
In mentioning arms sales, Chairman Fortes again underscored
Iran's interest in helping Brazil, depending on Brazil own
interest. The Deputy Minister told Fortes that Iran already
has agreements with Bolivia and Ecuador, but it was not made
clear to Fortes whether these were arms agreements.

Connecting the Dots
-------------------

3. (C) Fortes sees a sequence of dots showing more
Venezuelan influence and interference in the region, Iranian
support for Caracas, La Paz, and Quito, and the specter of
Russian arms in the region.

4. (C) Fortes said the Iranian Deputy Minister described
President Vladimir Putin's recent visit to Iran as very good,
resolving many differences between them; the Iranian
mentioned Russian arms sales to Venezuela, Russian relations
with Venezuela, as well as Venezuelan support for Bolivian
and Ecuador, praised Venezuela, and mentioned Venezuela's
recent acquisition of 26 warplanes, claiming they are to
maintain peace. The Deputy Minister, a former ambassador to
Brazil and one who knows Brazil, told Fortes it is up to
Brazil to determine how it wanted to work with Iran, and
through thinly veiled references asked the chairman of the
Foreign Relations and National Defense Committee if he was
interested in reviving the Friendship Group that previously
had as its leader a former senator of, as Fortes implied,
questionable character. Fortes said he had never been
approached that way in his career. He said the moribund
group will likely be revived in the Senate without his
support. Fortes said he believed there was pressure from
unknown quarters within Brazil to purchase Russian arms,
adding that the Air Force Commander, General Juniti Saito,
told him if he (Saito) were pushed to buy Russian weapons he

BRASILIA 00002132 002.3 OF 003


would have no option, and Fortes thought it would be a huge
mistake.

5. (C) Fortes continued pointing out worrisome signs:
leftist Venezuelan, Bolivian, and Peruvian deputies who are
trying to reactivate the Caracas-based Amazonian Parliament
(Parlamaz) were visiting Brasilia Nov 5-8 to lobby the
Brazilian Congress, and there are now "Bolivarian circles" in
Brazil that media have reported as being under Venezuelan
tutelage. Official Venezuelan diplomacy is increasingly
commercial, with huge contracts for firms such as Brazilian
construction giant Odebrecht, who then lobby for Venezuela,
Fortes noted. The expanded availability of the type of arms
in Venezuela that could be used for populist causes in Brazil
was also of concern to the senator. Fortes said it may not
be coincidental that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey
Kislyak arrived in Brasilia the same day as Iranian Deputy
Petroluem Minister and he speculated there may have been a
three-way meeting with Brazilians, the Russian, and the
Iranian.

6. (S) Iranian outreach plans in the region include another
Ahmadinejad trip including Brazil, probably for the next
inauguration of a Latin American president, making the trip a
springboard for Iranian regional diplomacy, Fortes said.
(Note: Ahmadinejad canceled a scheduled visit here last
September on short notice.) Presidential foreign policy
adviser Marco Aurelio Garcia supported the Iranian
president's visit, which may not have been supported by
Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, Fortes said, and the Iranian
Deputy Minister, who was in the traveling delegation to
Caracas and La Paz, said he tried everything up to the last
minute to get it reinstated. Fortes added that the Deputy
Minister was very disappointed at the cancellation,
especially since an Iranian advance team was already on the
ground in Brasilia. The senator indicated that he thought
that despite Garcia's strong support for the Ahmadinejad
visit, Celso Amorim may have intereceded due to the
sensitivities. Sensitive reporting indicates, though that
the reasons were other.

"You Are Children"
------------------

7. (C) Fortes strongly urged the USG to engage much more
"before it is too late." The USG is "indifferent" to what is
happening in the region and he urged the USG to take notice
of Venezuelan, Russian, and Iranian plans in the region,
saying, "You are children: you ignore a problem until it is
well along and then it is too late." He suggested the USG
adopt a plan for regional integration and promote arms
manufacturing partnerships with Brazil and Argentina to arm
the region, and said it could be done indirectly through arms
firms without publicly linking the USG to the increased arms
sales.

8. (S) Comment. Iranian and Venezuelan influence in Brazil
and the region is certainly growing and mutually reinforcing,
and Chairman Fortes is correct that there are differing views
on how to engage Iran, but clearly Brazil will be
increasingly sensitive to Iranian interests. It is also
interesting to recall President Lula's remarks on the margins
of the last UN General Assembly when he said Iran was not in
violation of any UN guidelines with its nuclear program, as
well as Brazil's abstention on November 7 in the Interpol
vote to issue international capture notices for Iranian
officials accused in the AMIA bombing (reftel). Chairman
Fortes's concerns parallel recent views we have heard
reporting on increasing Brazilian concerns over Venezuelan
arms purchases, the lack of a modernized Brazilian defense
capability, and increasing engagement of Venezuelan diplomats
in Brazil funding Bolivarian Circles and populist
organizations. Chairman Fortes is not alone in his feeling,
especially given the recent remarks of former president and

BRASILIA 00002132 003.2 OF 003


sitting senator Jose Sarney, a leader of the Brazilian
Democratic Movement Party.

Sobel

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