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Cablegate: Missile Technology Control Regime (Mtcr):

R 121525Z MAY 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
INFO MISSILE TECHNOLOGY CONTROL REGIME COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 050050


BUENOS AIRES FOR EST:A. SCHANDLBAUER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/31/2033
TAGS: MTCRE PARM PREL ETTC TSPL AR

SUBJECT: MISSILE TECHNOLOGY CONTROL REGIME (MTCR):
ARGENTINE SPACE LAUNCH VEHICLE (SLV) PROGRAM (U)

REF: A. LA NACION ARTICLE OF 05 AUGUST 07 (AND SUBSEQUENT)
B. 00 BUENOS AIRES 1211 (AND PREVIOUS)
C. 00 STATE 43295
D. 99 STATE 153139 (AND PREVIOUS)
E. 99 BUENOS AIRES 4356
F. 99 BUENSO AIRES 5768
G. 99 BUENOS AIRES 657
H. 99 BUENOS AIRES 694
I. 99 BUENOS AIRES 598
J. 99 STATE 261161 (AND PREVIOUS)
K. 92 BUENOS AIRES 6466
L. 92 BUENOS AIRES 4636
M. 92 STATE 186032
N. 93 STATE 33962
O. 94 STATE 245377
P. 94 BUENOS AIRES 2735
Q. 94 BUENOS AIRES 6094
R. 94 BUENOS AIRES 7658
S. 00 STATE 1581
T. 07 STATE 10771
U. 07 BUENOS AIRES 1793
V. 08 BUENOS AIRES 138
W. 08 BUENOS AIRES 170
X. 08 BUENOS AIRES 124
Y. DURHAM-VAROTTO DISCUSSION OF 14 SEPTEMBER 07

Classified By: ISN/MTR Director Pam Durham.
Reason: 1.5 (B), (D).


1. (U) Classified by ISN/MTR Director Pam Durham. Reason:
1.5 (B), (D).

2. (U) This is an action request. Embassy Buenos Aires,
please see paragraph 15.

3. (C) BACKGROUND: According to published reports (REF A),
the Argentine Commission for Space Activities (CONAE) is
overseeing an enterprise known as VENG to develop space
vehicles, particularly satellite launch vehicles (SLVs), and
launch services. Pursuant to this effort, VENG has developed
and tested the Tronador I rocket. Development of the
Tronador rocket and development of a hydrazine concentrate
pilot plant at Falda del Carmen also are underway. Hydrazine
is a key substance in liquid rocket fuel, and the Falda del
Carmen plant was part of Argentina's dismantled Condor II
missile program. Per REF V, this ""space program"" seems to
have approval from the Government of Argentina (GOA).

4. (C) The GOA's/CONAE's plans to develop a rocket for
space launch purposes -- and to develop rocket propellant at
the Falda del Carmen facility -- is of interest to the U.S.
because it appears inconsistent with the understanding on
SLVs and dismantlement of the rocket motor production
facility at Falda del Carmen reached between Argentina and
the United States prior to Argentina becoming a member of the
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 1994.

5. (C) In the 1980's/early 1990's, Argentina was actively
engaged in the development of the Condor ballistic missile
program, which clearly was intended to produce MTCR Category
I military missiles, including for export to Egypt and Iraq.
(NOTE: An MTCR Category I missile system is one that can
carry a payload of at least 500 kg to a range of at least 300
km. END NOTE.) The Condor program represented a serious
missile proliferation concern and a major irritant in our
bilateral relationship. This situation was further
aggravated by Argentina's attempts to camouflage - and
thereby maintain - the Condor program by calling it an SLV
program. SLVs and ballistic missiles are almost identical in
design, fabrication, and function. Their technologies are
essentially interchangeable, and there are virtually no
technologies that support SLV development that would not also
facilitate ballistic missile development. Any rocket capable
of putting a satellite into orbit also is by definition an
MTCR Category I syste
m. It also is inherently capable of delivering weapons of
mass destruction (WMD) against surface targets, and many
countries have used the same boosters to deliver both weapons
and satellite payloads.

6. (C) To address the concerns raised by the Condor
program, the United States insisted that Argentina dismantle
its existing missile facilities and agree to forego Category
I missiles. In addition, because Argentina sought to
disguise the Condor program as an SLV program, we also
insisted on restrictions on Argentina's SLV activities. The
United States -- and the MTCR as a whole -- sought and
obtained from the GOA written assurances that Argentina would
undertake specific actions to dismantle the rocket production
facilities at the Falda del Carmen plant. The MTCR Partners
requested these actions to ensure that Argentina's MTCR-class
missile program could not be revived.

7. (C) Accordingly, in 1992, the GOA assured U.S. officials
-- including then-Under Secretary Bartholomew -- that
Argentina had no SLV program and that Argentina did ""not now
or anytime in the foreseeable future"" contemplate development
of an SLV (REF K and REF L). The GOA provided similar
assurances to the MTCR during April 1992 meetings with the
multinational MTCR outreach team. While Argentina did not
state unequivocally that it would ""never"" pursue an
indigenous SLV capability, the diplomatic record indicates
that the United States has understood this to be the case
since 1992.

8. (C) With regard to dismantlement of the Falda del Carmen
rocket-motor production facility, the GOA provided written
assurances to the MTCR in late 1993 that it would take
specific steps to dispose of the MTCR Category I missile
manufacturing equipment located at the Falda del Carmen plant
(REFS N-R). These assurances were key to the MTCR Partners'
decision to admit Argentina to the Regime and included
agreement to:

--seal the casting pits in such a way that they cannot be put
to their originally intended use (i.e., rocket motor
production);

--remove from the propellant mixer all sets of gears and
mixing blades; and

--relocate from the Falda del Carmen rocket motor plant
either the AP grinder or the X-ray machine, and use both
items only for non-missile (which includes non-SLV) purposes.

To our knowledge, Argentina has honored faithfully its
explicit commitments related to dismantlement of the Condor
II missile program.

9. (C) In 1999 (REF D), the GOA sought release from its 1992
commitments regarding SLV development, and expressed great
disappointment when the U.S. declined to do so. The GOA
argued that the U.S. decision disadvantaged Argentina
vis-~-vis other MTCR Partners and infringed on Argentine
sovereignty. It also argued that while Argentina did provide
assurances to the U.S. in 1992 regarding SLV development, it
had not permanently renounced its right to peaceful use of
space technologies, including SLV development. Subsequently,
in late 1999/early 2000, following further discussion of the
issue, the GOA made clear that it had no intention of
pursuing development of an indigenous SLV capability, largely
due to financial concerns. However, in an April 2000
non-paper (REF S), the GOA reiterated its view on SLV
development, noting that it believed it inappropriate to
limit Argentina's future ""peaceful pursuit"" of an SLV based
on past events. It also indicated that U.S. dialogue on this
matter would continue.

10. (C) After seeing press reporting in August 2007 on the
Tronador program, U.S. officials informally raised the launch
vehicle issue with the CONAE Director Dr. Conrado Varotto
(REF U and REF Y). During those September 2007 discussions,
Varotto said Argentina has no intention of proliferating
missile technology but needs a reliable solution to its space
launch problem. It has decided that contracting for launches
of its satellites on foreign boosters is too costly, and is
pursuing an SLV program as a cost-effective way to get its
satellites into orbit. With regard to its 1992 commitments,
Varotto said the commitment on SLVs was for the ""foreseeable
future,"" not ""forever,"" and that the passage of time had
changed Argentina's situation. At the same time, Varotto
said Argentina is serious about nonproliferation and its
commitments with regard to the Condor program. The
facilities used in the Condor program have been completely
dismantled, and Argentina has developed a new facility (at
the same industria
l park) for the SLV program that does not implicate the old
Condor facilities. Additionally, the Tronador SLV is a
liquid-propellant system whereas the Condor was a solid
propellant system.

11. (C) During REF Y discussions, the U.S. was skeptical of
Dr. Varotto's suggestion that building and maintaining an SLV
infrastructure would be less costly than contracting for
launches, but noted that the priority concern for the U.S.
was nonproliferation. SLVs are MTCR Category I systems and
inherently capable of WMD delivery. SLVs and ballistic
missiles also are essentially identical in design, form, and
fabrication and any developments in one area could be applied
to the other. Given past concerns about Argentina trying to
disguise its missile program as an SLV program and the
interest of the U.S. and other MTCR countries in preventing
the spread of missiles and missile-related technology that
could potentially fall into the hands of proliferators and
terrorists, the U.S. hoped that Argentina would continue to
abide by its 1992 commitments. U.S. officials also noted
that the United States has maintained a policy since
September 1993 of not encouraging MTCR member countries'
""new"" SLV programs. (NO
TE: In this context, ""new"" means SLV programs the United
States did not cooperate with prior to the advent of the MTCR
in 1987. END NOTE.) Argentina therefore should not expect
U.S. support for its program even if the United States and
Argentina simply agree to disagree about Argentina's 1992
commitment on SLVs. Varotto hoped that the two sides could
think creatively about ways to resolve the issue, possibly
including by the United States agreeing to support
Argentina's SLV program if certain transparency measures were
implemented.

12. (C) In light of sensitivities in the broad
U.S.-Argentina bilateral relationship, the United States has
not raised this issue formally with the GOA. However, during
discussions with the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires in February
2008 (REF V), Dr. Varotto indicated that the SLV program
remains a high priority. He also suggested strongly that the
GOA would be open to unobtrusive transparency measures,
including briefing the MTCR on the details of the program.

END BACKGROUND.

13. (C) PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE: We support the peaceful pursuit
of space as outlined in the President's Space Policy.
Washington agencies have been considering how to balance its
response to Argentina's pursuit of a space launch vehicle
program in light of the understanding on SLVs and
dismantlement of the Condor missile program reached in 1992
between the United States and Argentina prior to Argentina
becoming an MTCR member. That review has now concluded, and
the United States has determined that while the United States
and Argentina continue to hold different understandings of
Argentina's SLV commitments, there is little likelihood that
the GOA could be persuaded to abandon its SLV program and we
do not intend to pursue such an outcome. Rather, given the
past history of the SLV issue and the ongoing priority we
place on missile nonproliferation, we want to seek full
transparency into the GOA's SLV program, including annual
consultations on the status of the program and the option for
periodic site/s visits
. We also want to request Argentina brief its SLV program to
the MTCR Partners and encourage the GOA to describe its
ongoing SLV efforts in its annual declaration to the Hague
Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation
(HCOC). We believe this approach will keep this issue from
being an irritant in our bilateral relationship. It also
will reinforce our broad missile nonproliferation objectives
by providing ongoing insight into the Argentine program and
opportunities to weigh in with the GOA if program
developments - including imports/exports relation to the
program - raise concerns.

14. (C) We therefore propose to raise the SLV issue
formally with the GOA, making clear that while the United
States and Argentina continue to hold different
understandings of Argentina's SLV commitments, we greatly
value Argentina's ongoing support for missile
nonproliferation and transparent approach to this matter and
do not want this issue to be a source of concern in our
bilateral relationship. In that spirit, we also want to note
that while the United States does not support Argentina's
pursuit of an MTCR Category I SLV, we understand that
Argentina intends to go forward with development of such a
system. Accordingly, we seek a GOA commitment to provide the
United States with full transparency into its SLV program,
including annual consultations on the status of the program
and on imports/exports relating to the program and the option
of periodic site/s visits. This could take the form of a
letter from Dr. Varotto to Ambassador Wayne, for example. As
an additional transparency measure, we also see
k Argentina's commitment to brief the MTCR Partners on its
SLV program - perhaps via a short information paper to all
MTCR Partners - and to describe its SLV efforts in its annual
declaration to the HCOC.

15. (C) ACTION REQUEST: Drawing on the talking points
provided below and, as necessary and appropriate, the
information in paragraphs 2-14 above, request Embassy Buenos
Aires raise the SLV issue with CONAE Director Varotto and
appropriate Argentine MFA officials and seek GOA commitment
to providing the United States with full transparency into
its SLV program.

BEGIN TALKING POINTS:

(CONFIDENTIAL/RELEASABLE ARGENTINA)

--During the past several years our two governments have
cooperated closely on missile nonproliferation issues, and we
greatly value your leadership and support for the Missile
Technology Control Regime's (MTCR's) efforts to stem the flow
of missile technology and equipment worldwide.

--In the cooperative spirit of our nonproliferation
partnership, we would like to discuss with you Argentina's
development of a space launch vehicle (SLV).

--Specifically, we understand that the Commission for Space
Activities (CONAE) is working to develop the Tronador rocket
in order to launch satellites into orbit. Such an SLV would
clearly be an MTCR Category I system, and raises questions
concerning Argentina's commitments to the United States
concerning SLV development.

--Our two governments have discussed issues relating to these
commitments on several occasions since 1992, and continue to
hold vastly different understandings of Argentina's SLV
commitments.

--However, despite these differences, the United States
recognizes and appreciates Argentina's efforts to pursue SLV
development in an open and transparent manner. We also
continue to highly value Argentina's activism on missile
nonproliferation issues and look forward to continued
collaboration in this area.

--In this context, we want to advise your government that
while the United States does not support Argentina's pursuit
of an MTCR Category I SLV, we understand that Argentina
intends to go forward with development of such a system.

--We therefore would like to ask that as this effort
proceeds, Argentina undertake to provide the United States
with full transparency into its SLV program.

--In our view, such transparency would be in keeping with our
shared missile nonproliferation objectives and help to ensure
that this matter does not become a source of irritation in
our bilateral relationship.

--Specifically, we would urge your government to agree to
annual consultations on the status of Argentina's SLV program
-- to include, as necessary and appropriate, discussion of
potential imports/exports relating to the program -- as well
as the option of periodic site/s visits by U.S. officials.

--Additionally, we would like to ask that Argentina provide a
one-time briefing to the MTCR Partners on its intention to
pursue an SLV program. We similarly would urge Argentina to
describe its SLV program in its annual declaration to the
Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation
(HCOC).

--We know Argentina shares our commitment to international
nonproliferation efforts and look forward to continued close
cooperation with Argentina on issues of mutual concern. We
hope we can work together to address the SLV issue in a
mutually satisfactory way.

END TALKING POINTS.

16. (U) Washington POC is ISN/MTR Director Pam Durham
(Phone: 202-647-4931). Please slug any reporting on this
issue for ISN and WHA.

17. (U) A word version of this document will be posted
AT WWW.STATE.SGOV.GOV/DEMARCHE.
RICE


NNNN


End Cable Text

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