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Cablegate: Mtcr: Argentine Space Launch Vehicle (Slv)

P R 232038Z JUN 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY
INFO MISSILE TECHNOLOGY CONTROL REGIME COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 067398


BUENOS AIRES FOR EST

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/23/2033
TAGS: MTCRE KSCA PARM PREL MNUC ETTC TSPA AR

SUBJECT: MTCR: ARGENTINE SPACE LAUNCH VEHICLE (SLV)
PROGRAM

REF: A. BUENOS AIRES 691 (AND PREVIOUS)
B. STATE 50050 (AND PREVIOUS)

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 7.

3. (C) BACKGROUND: REF A reports the government of
Argentina's (GOA's) initial reaction to the U.S. request for
additional transparency on Argentina's space launch program
(SLV) and requests further details concerning how Washington
agencies envision conducting the proposed ""annual
consultations"" and periodic site visits.

4. (C) PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE: As noted in REF B, the U.S.
seeks 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. As an additional transparency
measure, we also seek Argentina's commitment to brief its 33
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Partners on its SLV
program - perhaps via a short information paper -
and to describe its SLV efforts in its annual declaration to
the HCOC.

5. (C) We believe that this arrangement -- agreement to
hold annual consultations and the option for periodic site
visits -- will keep the SLV issue from being an irritant in
our bilateral relationship. It also will reinforce our
mutual missile nonproliferation objectives by providing
ongoing insight into the Argentine program and opportunities
for the U.S. to consult with Argentina if program
developments - including imports/exports relating to the
program - raise questions and/or if questions should arise
regarding the migration of technology and equipment from the
SLV program to an MTCR Category I offensive military missile
system. Additionally, we believe asking Argentina to provide
a one-time briefing to the MTCR is an appropriate way for the
GOA to demonstrate transparency and accountability to the
MTCR for fulfilling its commitments to the MTCR in the early
1990s concerning SLVs and the Falda del Carmen facilities.

6. (C) In response to the GOA's request for more
information (REF A), we therefore want to provide further
elaboration of our thinking concerning annual consultations
on the status of Argentina's SLV program and the option for
periodic site/s visits. In particular, we want to indicate
that the U.S. would envision the ""annual consultations"" being
a half-day to one-day meeting that would be held on a
mutually agreed date each year in either Washington or Buenos
Aires (venue would alternate). We also would expect both
sides to be represented by an appropriate expert-level
delegation, and not high-profile senior officials. For
example, we would anticipate that the U.S. delegation would
be led by the State Department's Director for Missile Threat
Reduction and would include representatives and technical
experts from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and State.
While the specific agenda for the ""annual consultations""
would need to be agreed in advance by the two governments, we
would generally expect th
e meeting to include a status report by the Argentine side on
the SLV program. We also would expect the U.S. side to raise
any questions it might have about program developments and/or
imports/exports relating to the SLV program. Additionally,
and as relevant and appropriate, we would anticipate the U.S.
side sharing information with the GOA concerning
proliferation-related activities of third countries and/or
non-state actors that would be helpful to the GOA's efforts
to implement and maintain sufficient safeguards to ensure
that the SLV program is not used - even inadvertently - as a
source of supply by proliferators. Finally, with regard to
site visits, our expectation would be that this would largely
be managed by the GOA inviting U.S. Embassy officials to
witness program milestones and affording them unfettered
access to the SLV program, including all relevant equipment
and personnel. However, we would not want to preclude the
possibility of Washington officials visiting the GOA's SLV
program faciliti
es at some future date.

7. (C) ACTION REQUEST: Drawing on the information provided
in paragraphs 4-6 above, request Embassy Buenos Aires convey
to CONAE Director Varotto and appropriate Argentine MFA
officials U.S. thinking on the nature of the SLV-related
transparency measures we are seeking, and report response.
Post should underscore that the U.S. intent is not/not to
create unwieldy or overly burdensome confidence building
measures, but to establish a transparency mechanism whereby
we can have confidence that the Argentine SLV program is
moving forward in a manner consistent with our shared missile
nonproliferation objectives. Post also should stress that we
recognize and appreciate Argentina's leadership on
nonproliferation matters and hope we can work together to
address SLV transparency in a mutually satisfactory way.

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


NNNN


End Cable Text

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