Cablegate: Menon Indicates Flexibility in End-Use Issues for Vvip Aircraft
OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHNE #1321/01 1351030
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 141030Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1722
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNNSG/NUCLEAR SUPPLIERS GROUP COLLECTIVE
RHHJJPI/PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 1471
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 6397
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 001321
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2018
TAGS: PREL PARM TSPL KNNP ETTC ENRG TRGY IN
SUBJECT: MENON INDICATES FLEXIBILITY IN END-USE ISSUES FOR VVIP AIRCRAFT
Classified By: Ambassador David Mulford for Reasons 1.4 (B and D)
1. (C) Summary: Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told the Ambassador May 14 that, after reading and having his people analyze note 1 in Amendment 1 of the Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for the Boeing VVIP Aircraft Self-Protection Suite (SPS), provided to Menon by the Ambassador the previous day, he saw no ""insurmountable difficulties"" in reaching an agreement on Enhanced End-Use Monitoring (EEUM) for the Large Aircraft Infrared Counter-Measures (LAIRCM). The many references in the Amendment to ""U.S. Air Force standards"" posed a sensitive problem, Menon pointed out, given that the Indian Air Force should uphold its own standards, which he maintained are essentially very similar. The presentation of the EEUM inspections and inventories, while doable, would require careful presentation, given the political sensitivity of the aircraft, Menon pointed out. He agreed with the Ambassador that if sensitive and patient representatives from each side could define the objectives and problems in terms of their own military services, he felt sure a negotiation would succeed. Menon said his people were already developing a counter-draft which would preserve the common objectives but put procedures and requirements into formats recognized by India's own services. He recognized the importance of resolving the issue quickly, and related that the Joint Secretary (G/Air) Bimal Julka will provide the counter-draft May 14 in Washington, and was empowered to negotiate on behalf of the Indian government. Menon assured the Ambassador that the Indian government shares our interest in protecting sensitive technology, both regarding the LAIRCM and technology that India will be seeking in future military deals. End Summary.
EEUM Resolution Requires Negotiation
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2. (C) In a May 14 meeting with Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, the Ambassador urged him to begin ""sensible negotiations"" to resolve the enhanced end-use monitoring (EEUM) arrangements required for the Large Aircraft Infrared Counter-Measures (LAIRCM) on the Boeing VVIP Aircraft Self-Protection Suite (SPS). The Ambassador explained that the U.S. Congress required the Amendment which sets out the EEUM arrangements, but only an in-depth discussion between the U.S. and India could identify the real ""sticking points,"" which could involve minute details as specific as fence height and entry points. Resolving the EEUM issue now would also clear the way for future trade in top-of-the-line technology which India wants in other areas, the Ambassador pointed out, and he urged Menon to resolve the issue quickly, since the agreement would be required before the testing of the aircraft which is due for delivery in mid-June. The Ambassador advised Menon to begin negotiations with representatives who have the authority to negotiate on behalf of the Indian government.
No Insurmountable Difficulties in EEUM
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3. (C) Menon thanked the Ambassador for earlier providing Note 1 of Amendment 1 of the Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for the aircraft. After reading the document, he concluded that there are ""no insurmountable difficulties in reaching an understanding that would meet your requirements and ours."" Menon said that the Indian government has prepared a counter-draft, which the Ministry of Defense Joint Secretary (G/Air) will deliver May 14 in Washington. He assured the Ambassador that the Joint Secretary had the authority to negotiate, although he also cautioned that the counter-draft still required political level endorsement.
4. (C) While he acknowledged that standard end-use monitoring had proven viable, EEUM for the LAIRCM had several problems, which he aimed to resolve in the counter-draft. The Amendment frequently refers to U.S. Air Force (USAF) standards, which gave the appearance as if the Indian Air Force (IAF) now must enforce U.S. requirements, but Menon thought that different wording would resolve the issue. Menon also pointed out that, because the aircraft attracts high-level political attention, the presentation of the inspections regime needed rewrQing. But Menon found the amendment ""reassuring,"" because the details that it laid out NEW DELHI 00001321 002 OF 002
mirror those that the Indian government also wishes to enforce.
Details to Come
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5. (C) Office of Defense Cooperation Acting Chief LTC Brian Hedrick clarified that the authors of the amendment relied on USAF standards because he or she did not know the Indian standards. However, if the IAF could demonstrate equivalent or better standards, the U.S. might accept those, Hedrick continued. He noted that the U.S. and India could work out the details during the negotiations of a security plan, during which the teams work out the EEUM arrangements at the actual storage site. Menon welcomed such a meeting, and said that ""they would be happy to do that.""
India Shares U.S. Interest in Protecting LAIRCM
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6. (C) Menon underlined that India shares the U.S. interest in protecting the LAIRCM technology. ""We have a huge interest to make sure it is well protected -- not just by us but by others -- and we have no problem with high standards,"" he stressed. The Ambassador noted that the future of the high-technology defense relationship depended on resolving the EEUM issue, although he regretted that the VVIP aircraft presented the groundbreaking case. Menon recognized that India and the U.S. had to work out the issue at some point, and learn to deal with the EEUM matter.
Comment: Menon's Flexibility Could Signal Quick Resolution
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7. (C) In sharp contrast with Menon's hard-line demeanor when he first asked the Ambassador to withdraw the EEUM amendment, Menon displayed flexibility and ease when engaging in a discussion on EEUM during the meeting. At no point in the conversation did Menon reject inspections, and he appeared resigned to on-site verification, as shown by his acceptance of a site visit by negotiators. The problems that the Foreign Secretary saw in the US' proposed amendment dealt primarily with the cosmetic presentation it seemed, which he believes gives the impression of associating the VVIP aircraft, and by extension the Indian Government, too closely with the U.S. Mr. Menon during the meeting seemed comfortable with the basic standard presented and the necessity of negotiating a strict protection regime that controls the sensitive LAIRCM technology. We do not know whether his commitment to resolve the issue quickly will be reflected in the May 14 discussions, but we believe the differences in our two positions have narrowed.
8. (C) The Ambassador is well aware of the sometimes optimistic language of exchange with Indian officials turning out that be difficult to convert into concrete agreement. However, in this case our effort to, on the one hand, insist on our standard being met, while on the other hand seeking common ground on which to proceed seems to be producing results. If we can keep to this line of seeking mutual understanding of problems both sides recognize as important, we should be able to get through this sensitive problem area.