Cablegate: Libya's Nsc Solicits U.S. Views On Civilian Nuclear Cooperation & Lethal Military Equipment Sales
DE RUEHTRO #0374/01 1291411
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O P 081411Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3415
INFO RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0470
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0070
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 0500
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0669
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0620
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1088
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 3919
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000374
DEPT FOR NEA/MAG E.O. 12958: DECL: 5/8/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL ETTC KNNP MASS PINR TRGY LY RU FR
SUBJECT: LIBYA'S NSC SOLICITS U.S. VIEWS ON CIVILIAN NUCLEAR COOPERATION & LETHAL MILITARY EQUIPMENT SALES REF: A) TRIPOLI 340, B) TRIPOLI 372
CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (c), (d), (e)
1.(S/NF) Summary: A senior National Security Council official asked what the USG's views were on the possibility of U.S.-Libya civilian nuclear cooperation and on sales of lethal military equipment to Libya. Building a nuclear reactor for peaceful uses, principally power generation and water desalination, is a key GOL priority and Libya would prefer that a U.S. company and/or the USG provide technical guidance and/or undertake construction efforts. The official stressed that the GOL is anxious to resolve outstanding bilateral political irritants (terrorism-related claims in U.S. courts, the Lautenberg Amendment) before the current U.S. administration's term expires to ensure greater bilateral cooperation and U.S. commercial activity in Libya. It was not clear that the requests for the USG's views on civilian nuclear cooperation and lethal military equipment sales had been fully coordinated with other elements of the GOL. Please see guidance request at para 8. End summary.
GOL WANTS NUCLEAR REACTOR PLANT FOR CIVILIAN PURPOSES
2.(S/NF) In a meeting with the CDA on May 7, Dr. Hind Siala, Director of Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation at Libya's National Security Council (NSC), asked what the USG's views were on the possibility of U.S.-Libya civilian nuclear cooperation. Siala said building a nuclear reactor for peaceful uses, to include power generation and water desalination, is a GOL priority. According to Siala, the GOL would strongly prefer that U.S. companies, in concert with the USG, provide technical guidance and/or undertake construction. If U.S. companies and/or the USG are not interested in participating in such a project directly, the GOL wants assurances that the USG would approve Libya offering an international tender for construction of a civilian reactor by third-country parties.
CLAIMS U.S. NUCLEAR COOPERATION WOULD NOT CONTRADICT PARALLEL EFFORTS WITH FRANCE & RUSSIA
3.(S/NF) The CDA noted media reports claiming the GOL had signed civilian nuclear cooperation agreements with France during President Sarkozy's visit to Tripoli in July 2007, and with Russia during President Putin's visit in April. (Note: As reported ref A, at the GOL's insistence, Libya and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding committing them to finalization of a formal cooperation agreement on civilian uses of nuclear energy by the end of 2008. The GOL hoped to sign the formal agreement during Putin's visit; however, no language was agreed to before the visit and Russia refused to sign without further consultations. Russian contacts here claimed the formal agreement - if signed - would only establish a general framework for future cooperation and would not/not be keyed to any specific projects. End note.) Siala averred that U.S.-Libya civilian nuclear cooperation would complement, not contradict, parallel efforts with France and Libya. Conceding she is not fully briefed on Libya's nuclear aspirations, she did not know how many reactor plants the GOL envisages building; however, she reiterated that desalination was a primary goal.
USG'S POSITION ON POSSIBILITY OF LETHAL MILITARY EQUIPMENT SALES SOUGHT
4.(S/NF) Siala next raised the possibility of U.S. sales of lethal military equipment. Noting that the issue had been raised during NEA Assistant Secretary David Welch's visit in August 2007, she stressed that "time is pressing" from the GOL's perspective. Libya understood that difficult bilateral issues such as outstanding terrorism-related claims in U.S. courts remained and that building trust took time; however, if there were "other political issues" that would prevent the U.S. from selling Libya lethal military equipment in the future, the GOL would prefer to know now so that it can pursue other options.
GOL ANXIOUS TO RESOLVE OUTSTANDING POLITICAL ISSUES BEFORE YEAR'S END
5.(S/NF) Drawing a line between concerns about potential nuclear and military cooperation and efforts to find a comprehensive settlement of terrorism-related claims in U.S. courts, Siala stressed the importance of resolving political issues before the current U.S. administration's term expires to TRIPOLI 00000374 002 OF 002 facilitate greater bilateral cooperation. Reiterating points we've heard before, she noted that European and other companies are heavily involved in Libya; the GOL would like to see more U.S. companies active here. Section 1083 of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (the so-called "Lautenberg Amendment") greatly complicated the business environment in Libya for U.S. companies, whose assets were potentially at risk of attachment. Expressing concern that a new U.S. administration might have different views about reengagement with Libya, she underscored the need to push ahead quickly with efforts to resolve claims cases and exempt Libya and U.S. companies from application of the Lautenberg Amendment. Siala solicited the CDA's views on the effectiveness of the Livingston Group, a lobbying organization hired to help burnish Libya's reputation in Washington, and asked about the status of proposed negotiations on outstanding claims.
6.(S/NF) On cooperation, Siala proposed the further and expanded exchange of senior visitors, even as efforts to resolve the claims and Lautenberg issues continue. Emphasizing our agreement with that approach, the CDA noted difficulties post had encountered in trying to bring in U.S. visitors for educational and cultural programs, referencing comments by MFA officials to the effect that such visits were inappropriate since U.S.-Libya relations were not "fully normalized" (ref B). Expressing surprise, Siala agreed to inform National Security Adviser Muatassim al-Qadhafi to see if the NSC could help alleviate those problems.
7.(S/NF) Comment: Although she was clearly conveying points at the behest of her boss, NSA Muatassim al-Qadhafi, it struck us that the requests for the USG's views on civilian nuclear cooperation and lethal military equipment sales had not been fully coordinated with other elements of the GOL (the MOD and MFA equivalents, for example) that usually have a voice on those issues. We suspect that Muatassim may be seeking to explore the parameters of areas in which he can push for expanded bilateral cooperation. The questions nonetheless underscore the expectation in certain quarters of the GOL that bilateral cooperation will expand very rapidly - including in sensitive issue areas - if a comprehensive settlement of outstanding terrorism-related legal claims and the Lautenberg Amendment issue can be achieved. Bearing in mind the GOL's disappointment that assumptions about the depth of engagement immediately after its decision in December 2003 to abandon WMD aspirations and renounce terrorism were not met, we will need to temper its current expectations and carefully coordinate our response to requests for expansion of cooperation into sensitive areas. End comment.
8.(S/NF) Guidance request: Request Department guidance on whether and how Post should further respond to the request for the USG's views on possible civilian nuclear cooperation and lethal military equipment sales. End guidance request.