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Cablegate: New Argentine Atomic Energy Chief Still Settling In

VZCZCXYZ1970
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0281/01 0641843
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041843Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0393
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6730
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 3662
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0179
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/NRC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000281

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/BSC AND ISN/NESS
DOE FOR HE-1 AND HE-23
NRC FOR OIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KNNP ENRG IAEA OTRA PREL ECON AR
SUBJECT: NEW ARGENTINE ATOMIC ENERGY CHIEF STILL SETTLING IN

REF: BUENOS AIRES 0236

1. (U) This cable is sensitive but unclassified, and not for
Internet distribution.

-------
Summary
-------

2. (SBU) Ambassador Wayne called on recently appointed
Argentine Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) President Norma
Boero February 29. The ambassador thanked Boero for CNEA's
cooperation in the successful November 2007 joint operation
to remove the last of Argentina's highly-enriched uranium to
the U.S. Boero has been focusing on administrative issues
within CNEA since her appointment a little over a month ago,
but that is likely to change with her travel to Vienna to
attend this week's IAEA Board of Governor's meeting. Boero
confirmed that the recent report about joint
Argentine-Brazilian development of a nuclear submarine was a
fabrication. End Summary.

----------------------
An Operational Success
----------------------

3. (SBU) The ambassador visited new (appointed January 17)
CNEA President Norma Boero February 29 to laud our bilateral
nuclear cooperation and to introduce himself. The ambassador
gave special thanks to CNEA staffers who participated in the
November 2007 Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) joint
operation that repatriated the last of Argentina's
highly-enriched uranium to the U.S. That operation was the
subject of a mostly-positive article in leading circulation
daily Clarin February 26.

-------------------------------
No Confirmation of JSCNEC Dates
-------------------------------

4. (SBU) When Ambassador Wayne asked whether Argentina had
decided to accept our suggested dates of April 22-25 for this
year's Joint Standing Committee on Nuclear Energy Cooperation
(JSCNEC), Boedo was unable to respond definitively. However,
a representative of Argentina's nuclear regulatory agency
(ARN) confirmed that her agency had accepted the dates.
Elena Maceiras, ARN's Director of Institutional Relations,
told the ambassador that ARN had so informed the MFA. As of
March 4, though, the MFA had not confirmed the April 22-25
dates.

-------------------------------
Nuclear Cooperation with Brazil
-------------------------------

5. (SBU) The ambassador asked Boero whether the press had
correctly reported all nuclear-related elements of the
cooperation agreements signed by Presidents Fernandez de
Kirchner and Lula February 22 (reftel), noting that a
reported deal to cooperate on the construction of a nuclear
submarine had been subsequently denied by both countries.
Boero replied by confirming that the submarine partnership
was an invention, and cautioned the ambassador not to place
too much trust in the Argentine press. Boero also confirmed
that Argentina is concentrating on developing enrichment
capability to produce low-enriched fuel for its two existing
nuclear power plants and for another under construction. She
did not comment on whether Argentina will indeed pursue a
joint enrichment program with Brazil, as reported reftel.

--------------------
Comment: Settling In
--------------------

6. (SBU) Boero is a chemical engineer who has worked at the
CNEA since 1979. Despite her years of experience, she comes
across as a rather timid individual who has yet to find her
footing as CNEA president. For example, she brought nine
colleagues to the meeting with the ambassador, who was
accompanied only by a notetaker, and she was quick to defer
to those colleagues throughout the meeting. When the
ambassador asked how we could best collaborate, Boero replied
that while she is sure that we will "have a lot to do
together" in time, she has been focusing exclusively on
intra-organizational issues. Finally, when her nominal
supervisor, Ministry of Planning Undersecretary for
Coordination Roberto Barratta, entered the meeting to greet
the ambassador, Boero grew even more reticent. She is
clearly still settling in. Boero is traveling to Vienna for
the IAEA Board of Governors' meeting this week, and we
encourage UNVIE staff with an opportunity to interact with
the Argentine delegation to introduce themselves to her.
WAYNE

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