Cablegate: Iranian Pugwash Participants Claim Tehran

DE RUEHLO #2101/01 2251801
P 121801Z AUG 08

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 LONDON 002101


E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/05/2018

REF: A. A) E-MAILS JULY 29-AUG 1 EMB LONDON (GAYLE) TO NEA/IR B. B) LONDON 1645 C. C) DUBAI 28 Classified By: Classified By: Political Counselor Rick Mills for reason s 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (S) Summary: Iranian government advisers at the most recent "Pugwash" Conference on Iran reportedly argued during the August 2-3 seminar that: -- Iran wants direct flights to the United States addressed before any talks on a U.S. interest section in Tehran; -- sanctions do not affect Iran's leadership; -- Iran resented the placing of a deadline on the P5 1's refreshed offer; -- Iran will be unaffected by Israeli threats of pre-emptive attack; -- Iran would not accept an international consortium on enrichment; -- Iran and the United States should together focus on Afghan stability; and -- any American scientists' visits to Iranian nuclear facilities must be reciprocal. End summary

2. (S/NF) International Institute of Strategic Studies non-proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick, a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer who was a principal participant at Pugwash, provided readout to London Iran Watcher (Poloff) about the two-day conference, held August 2-3 in The Hague.

Iranian Participants: from MFA and Jalili/Ahmedinejad Staffs ------------------------------

3. (S/NF) Included among invited Iranian participants at the Pugwash event were: Mojtana Hashemi Samareh, an Ahmadinejad "Principal Advisor and Cabinet Member;" Ambassador to IAEA Soltanieh, Jalili nuclear deputies Assampour and Ali Bagheri, MFA Director for Europe Mustafa Dolatya, and Ambassador to the Netherlands Reza Ziaran. American participants included Fitzpatrick, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), former Defense Secretary William Perry, former Ambassador William Miller of the Woodrow Wilson Center, SFRC Senior staffer Paneet Talwar, and Stanford's Siegfried Hecker. The meeting was held in Iran House, next door to the Iranian Embassy.

Nuclear Issue ------------- LONDON 00002101 002 OF 005

4. (S) As the conference was held shortly before the P5 1 received Jalili's one-page letter replying to the group's nuclear offer, Iranians at Pugwash commented on timing, saying a response would be coming "soon," and voicing resentment that a deadline had been announced by the P5 1 governments. The Iranians also complained that it was hard to know which U.S. voice to believe, citing what they said were "harsh words" from Washington immediately after the July 19 Geneva meeting.

5. (S) U.S. participants underlined U.S policy on Iran post-election would be unaffected by which party won and advised Iranians not to expect a USG change of course. U.S participants also reportedly emphasized U.S. desire for a changed relationship, pointing to Secretary Rice's signature on the June P5 1 letter, Under Secretary Burns' presence in Geneva July 19, and to the idea of a U.S. interests section in Tehran; they emphasized time was running short for an Iranian response.

6. (S/NF) A mid-level Iranian MFA official argued the Secretary's signature and the Burns visit were actually "negative" signals, in that they represented a final diplomatic ploy before the imposition of further sanctions: Fitzpatrick dismissed this line of argument as absurd.

7. (S/NF) After broad discussion of an international consortium, including a listing of the numerous conditions (e.g., facilities above ground, no tech transfer, "black-boxing") Ambassador Pickering's group had attached to its hypothetical consortium earlier in the year, the Iranian delegation made clear Iran would firmly reject such conditions.

8. (S) Regarding scientific exchanges whereby scientists from both countries would meet to talk through ways to widen the "thin line" separating military from civil nuclear programs, there was some disagreement on the U.S. side whether Iranian scientists would be able to get U.S. visas to visit U.S. nuclear sites. The Iranians were defensive and insisted on the reciprocity of any such visits.

Sanctions: Iranians Doth Protest Too Much ----------------------------------------- LONDON 00002101 003 OF 005

9. (S/NF) Javed Hammanpour spoke privately to Fitzpatrick on the margins, asking hypothetically how Iran would benefit "if we suspended." Fitzpatrick's answer, that sanctions would in that case be suspended, was dismissed as insignificant and insufficient by Hammanpour, who argued that Iran is unaffected by sanctions, and that sanctions in any case dove-tail with Tehran hard-liners' objectives, by encouraging self-sufficiency.

10. (S/NF) Fitzpatrick was skeptical of the Iranians' claim that sanctions do not matter to them; he said the Iranians on this point were throughout the conference on this point insistent and repetitive, but unconvincing.

Interest Section: Discuss Flights First ---------------------------------------

11. (S) The interest section issue was raised by the U.S. side. Samareh repeated Ahmedinejad's words, that if it was formally proposed the idea would be considered positively, but added there should first be preliminary steps, including a positive response to Iran's request for direct flights to the U.S. Samareh went on to say that the Swiss Embassy in Tehran should start (with Swiss staff) issuing a limited number of U.S. visas; Samareh said this was a personal proposal. (Embassy comment: Coincidentally, another Poloff contact, recently returned from Tehran where he reportedly had repeated contact with several ministries, has also been vigorously flogging to Poloff the direct flights issue as of great importance to officials in Tehran. End comment.)

12. (S/NF) Other Iranians continued to press Fitzpatrick on the margins on the direct flight issue. Fitzpatrick replied this would likely be impossible, given that the likelihood of further sanctions would make opening direct flights impossible.

Israel: Rhetoric ----------------

13. (S/NF) U.S comments on Israeli anxiety prompted a strong reaction, about Iran not responding to threats, as well as comments that Israel was run by "madmen" and would LONDON 00002101 004 OF 005 implode. Fitzpatrick pointed out to Iranian interlocutors the mirror-imaging they might be doing in making such comments.

Afghanistan: An Iranian Focus -----------------------------

14. (S) In the larger sessions Iranian comments centered on the lack of help it gets in fighting drug trafficking amidst increasing opium production. In private, Hammanpour said Iran and the U.S., instead of being "distracted" by the nuclear issue, should be acting together to reverse the downward spiral of instability and insurgency in Afghanistan.

Embassy Comment ---------------

15. (S/NF) Given the make-up of the Iranian delegation (limited to Jalili-Ahmedinejad aides and to the MFA) some of the conference's apparent dynamics may be significant:

A) Fitzpatrick noted the negotiating style of some participants, such as Ahmedinejad advisor Samareh, seemed at times to veer from rational, measured points to overheated rhetoric, especially on Israel, but when Fitzpatrick pushed back politely but pointedly, discussion resumed on a more rational basis;

B) in contrast with MFA reps who repeated rigidly anti-U.S. formulae, Jalili's deputies, at least in private, seemed to show slightly more flexibility, thus mirroring the marginally greater openness Jalili showed Solana and Political Directors (minus the U.S.) June 14-15 in Tehran (ref b);

C) Ahmedinejad advisor Samareh's broad dismissal of a consortium seems consistent with information (ref c) that the May Iran proposal, which included a consortium component, was authored by Javad Larijani, brother of (Ali Larijani) a major Ahmedinejad rival; and

D) finally, the Iranians' profession of indifference to sanctions, which Fitzpatrick found unconvincing, went hand in hand, and incongruously, with their notable interest in direct flights between Iran and the United States. LONDON 00002101 005 OF 005 Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX

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