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Cablegate: Transformation of the International Science and Technology

VZCZCXRO3934
RR RUEHAST
DE RUEHMO #1631 1600903
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080903Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8482
INFO RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA 0171
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 0057
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV 0250
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI 3870
RUEHYE/AMEMBASSY YEREVAN 0501
RUEHAST/USO ALMATY 0004

UNCLAS MOSCOW 001631

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR ISN/CTR AND EUR/PRA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PARM KNNP PARM TBIO TSPL RS
SUBJECT: Transformation of the International Science and Technology
Center

REF: STATE 60043

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) On June 6, we discussed the need to begin bilateral
discussions about the transformation of the International Science
and Technology Center (ISTC) with Senior Counselor Sergey Shestakov
and Counselor Galina Kramarenko from the MFA's Department of
Security and Disarmament Affairs. We noted the recent discussions
on the ISTC's future between Acting Under Secretary Rood and Russian
Deputy Foreign Minister Kislyak, and between State Department and
Russian Embassy officials in Washington. We discussed reftel
non-paper suggesting that the ISTC could become a center for
international cooperation on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and
counterterrorism, noting the need to examine new funding mechanisms
for the ISTC, and proposing bilateral expert-level meetings to
discuss the ISTC's future in June 2008.

2. (SBU) Shestakov pledged to share the non-paper with other
interested Russian agencies with a stake in the ISTC and seek a
consolidated Russian reaction to our proposal. Shestakov sounded
familiar Russian views that the ISTC's original mandate of
redirecting WMD scientists into peaceful avenues of research had
been accomplished. He also said Russia would not be ready to begin
discussions of the ISTC's future in June 2008, although he had no
problem in general with a bilateral expert meeting about the ISTC's
future in either Washington or Moscow. We agreed to check with
Shestakov in two weeks to see if the Russians might be ready to
begin expert-level bilateral discussions on the margins of the next
ISTC Governing Board meeting in mid-July.

3. (SBU) Shestakov cautioned that the ongoing transformation of
Rosatom (the current lead Russian agency for ISTC) from a federal
agency to a state-owned corporation left the question of who should
play the lead Russian role for ISTC unclear. He also stated that
establishing what Russian agency should play the lead role to a
certain degree would depend upon ISTC's basic mission going forward.
With the ISTC's original mandate achieved, Shestakov noted that the
GOR was not certain what type of future nonproliferation mission for
the ISTC made sense. Likewise, although counterterrorism was a
shared security interest, the GOR was not sure that the ISTC was the
right place for basic counterterrorism activities or research.
Instead, he suggested a more natural fit would be an ISTC mission
focused on science, technology and nanotechnology. In response to
our observation that the ISTC's funding from the United States, EU,
Canada and Japan came out of non-proliferation and international
security budgets, Shestakov said that a basic legal and juridical
reworking of the ISTC would likely be a necessary part of the ISTC's
transformation.

4. (SBU) We also raised with Shestakov the lack of any significant
volume of host government concurrences from Russia for ISTC
scientific research projects since August 2007 and how this could
ultimately diminish the ISTC's workload and funding. Shestakov said
he would consult with Rosatom to see if there was a way to restart
the concurrence process in the near term.

RUSSELL

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