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Cablegate: Ambassador Schulte Outlines in Chile Usg Nuclear

VZCZCXYZ0017
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSG #0955/01 2981756
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241756Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3865
INFO RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 1094
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 5755
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT BRASILIA 0488
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4070
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 3583
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1815
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0046
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SANTIAGO 000955

STATE FOR WHA/BSC, WHA/EPSC AND EEB/ESC/IEC

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG SENV BTIO OEXC PGOV CI

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR SCHULTE OUTLINES IN CHILE USG NUCLEAR
PROLIFERATION CONCERNS

Summary

1. (U) U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Schulte October 14-16 reviewed
with Chilean audiences Iran's ongoing failure to cooperate with the
IAEA; USG and IAEA assessments of Tehran's attempts to develop
nuclear weapons; and, the dual-track international effort to either
bring Iran to the negotiating table or, in the alternative, impose
sanctions. Schulte also described IAEA's response to Syria's
efforts to build a nuclear facility, with the assistance of North
Korea, in violation of Syria's IAEA safeguards agreement. End
summary.

2. (U) Ambassador Greg Schulte, U.S. Ambassador to International
Organizations in Vienna, including the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA), stopped in Santiago October 14 -16, 2008, as part of
a regional visit to Chile, Argentina and Brazil. The primary
purposes of Ambassador Schulte's visit were bilateral consultations
and public diplomacy on the Iran nuclear issue. Ambassador Simons
joined Ambassador Schulte in several meetings. E/Pol officer
accompanied Ambassador Schulte throughout his visit. Septel covers
Ambassador Schulte's discussions on the IAEA's oversight role in
regulating development of nuclear power facilities, regional energy
concerns, as well as Chile's domestic energy crisis and its
potential interest in developing nuclear energy.

Chile Understands the Threat in Iran

3. (SBU) At an October 15 breakfast hosted by Ambassador Simons,
bringing together several Chilean energy experts to discuss a wide
variety of topics (septel), MFA's Deputy Director in the Office of
International Security, Matias Undurraga, highlighted Chile's stance
against Iran's position on nuclear power during the U.N. Non-Aligned
Movement (NAM) meeting in Tehran [Note: Presumably a reference to
Chile not joining in the July 2008 announcement that more than 100
non-aligned nations backed Iran's right to pursue nuclear power, an
endorsement sought by Tehran in its standoff with the U.N. Security
Council over its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment. End note.]
Undurraga noted as well Chile's concern over Chavez's relationship
with Iran. Schulte replied it is helpful when countries such as
Chile condemn Iran's enrichment program to avoid a race for nuclear
technology in the Middle East and to ensure that Iran cannot just
dismiss concerns as part of a U.S.-Iran fight.

4. (SBU) When Lucia Dammert, Director of the Latin America Faculty
of Social Science's (FLSACO) Security and Citizenship Program,
observed that a benefit of the current global economic crisis was
decreased oil revenues for Chavez, Schulte noted the impact is even
stronger in Tehran and sanctions are having an impact in the form of
increased debate and unrest within Iran.

5. (SBU) At a meeting at La Moneda (the presidential palace) later
that day, Marcos Robledo, Presidential Advisor on Foreign and
Defense Policy, listened attentively to Ambassador Schulte's review
of the issues with Iran and Syria. (Robledo and Schulte also
discussed the IAEA's role in helping countries make decisions on use
and development of nuclear energy, and the proposal for a nuclear
fuel bank - septel). Robledo said his office is in close contact
with Chile's Resident Representative (and Chair of the IAEA Board of
Governors for 2007-2008) Ambassador Milenko Skoknic. Robledo
suggested the NAM has become weaker in the past few years due to
increasingly complex political dynamics. Chile is committed to
non-proliferation goals but will weigh regional concerns, including
its relationship with Venezuela and other countries, when making
decisions regarding Iran. On Syria, Robledo indicated Chile's
preference to wait for the IAEA Secretary General's report to
determine if Syria violated international law.

MFA Supports Non-Proliferation and Disarmament

6. (SBU) At the MFA, Ambassador Schulte met with Director of Special
Policies Ambassador Juan Eduardo Eguiguren and Undurraga. Schulte
reviewed concerns with Iran and Syria and expressed his appreciation
for Chile's support at the IAEA. Eguiguren worried about Syria's
lack of cooperation concerning site inspection. Eguiguren served in
Damascus and noted the Ba'ath Party's secretive nature can be
detrimental to Syria's interests; Damascus "must recognize there are
consequences for its actions." Ambassador Schulte pointed out
construction of the facility probably started in 2000 and the
decision to construct it may have been made by Hafez al-Asad, who
died that year and was succeed by his son Bashar. Eguiguren agreed

Bashar al-Asad might not be totally aware of the project and
suggested France was a good interlocutor to engage with Syria.

7. (SBU) Eguiguren said Iran knows that the international community
is following its activities and expressed optimism that Iranian
elections might bring new leadership. Ambassador Schulte praised
Chile's role in the NAM, but noted concern that Iran is rapidly
gaining technical expertise. Eguiguren lamented difficulties
operating in the NAM as a single country and said it is not always
possible to bring the group together because if an issue is not
counter to a country's policy some will not bother to oppose it.
The ambassadors discussed Iran's use of the NAM to prove that it is
not isolated. Discussion of IAEA functions reported septel.

Military Analysts Views on Iran's Nuclear Program

8. (SBU) Ambassador Schulte also met with several academics and
analysts working on non-proliferation from a military standpoint.
The group included: Col. Jorge Pena, Associate Professor and Head
Department of Military History, Strategy and Geopolitics at of
Chilean War College, Ricardo Neeb, Professor at Pontifica
Universidad Catolica and Non-Proliferation Analyst for Ministry of
Interior, retired General Alvaro Guzman, Nuclear Engineer from
Centro de Estudios Nucleares del Ejercito (CENE), a military think
tank. On the issue of trade sanctions, Neeb pointed out Chile's
relative distance from Iran and that the GOC is more concerned about
proliferation in general. He asked whether, if Iran did not change
its posture due to sanctions, the U.S. was still considering other
options. Schulte assured Neeb diplomacy is a preferred first
option, but noted the current administration and both presidential
candidates have taken a tough stance on Iran that includes all
options and that Israel would be compelled to consider all options
if threatened.

Nuclear Energy Commission Asks Tough Technical Questions

9. (SBU) In contrast with other meetings, discussion during the
working lunch with representatives of Chile's Nuclear Energy
Commission (Comisisn Chilena de Energa Nuclear - CChEN), was more
technical. After a brief introduction by CChEN Director Lopez,
Ambassador Schulte launched into his presentation on Iran and Syria.
He was interrupted by Board of Director member Dr. Julio Vergara,
who asked about the reliability of U.S. intelligence on Iran, and
explained that the U.S. is only one of ten countries providing
information to the IAEA on Iran. Vergara agreed with Ambassador
Schulte that Iran's uranium enrichment does not make sense in the
absence of nuclear reactors in the country.

10. (SBU) Board members asked a number of questions about the Syrian
facility that was destroyed, including whether the U.N. Security
Council (UNSC) had been informed about it. Ambassador Schulte
explained that the UNSC would likely be informed after the IAEA
Secretary General's written report is released in November.

Influential Senator Supports Position Against Iran

11. (SBU) Senator Jaime Gazmuri, Head of the Chilean Senate's
International Relations Commission, assured Schulte Chile shares
similar views on Iran and Syria, but questioned why the U.S. does
not have similar concerns about Israel proliferating nuclear
technology. The Ambassador noted that Pakistan, India and Israel
have not signed the NPT and that Israel maintains it will not be
first in the Middle East to "introduce" nuclear weapons. He further
elaborated that there is little concern in the region about Israel
using offensive nuclear weapons, but there is concern that having
nuclear weapons capability will make Iran more aggressive. When he
pointed out the need to be realistic about a nuclear-free zone in
the Middle East because Israel will not give up while Iran is
seeking a nuclear capability, the Senator countered that the reverse
is also true.

12. (SBU) In response to Gazmuri's questions about how to move past
the seeming impasse, Ambassador Schulte expressed several reasons
why Iran might seek nuclear weapons: prestige, security and
domination (regional homogeny). He explained that rather than
allowing Iran to use Israel to change the subject, there is a need
to use diplomacy to convince Iran that it gains prestige by
negotiating, security though improved relations and that pursuing
nuclear weapons is counter-productive. Gazmuri agreed, but
also commented "but if my enemy has the bomb, then I need the bomb"
and said a different relationship is need with Iran, but depends on
Iran's leader, e.g., Khatemi.

Schulte Wins Tough Competition for Media's Attention

13. (U) Ambassador Schulte held a press roundtable that included
five journalists from major press outlets and more specialized
publications. Despite having to compete with news of Chile's
first-ever soccer victory over Argentina and the U.S. Presidential
debate, his visit got good press coverage. La Nacion, a
government-owned, editorially independent paper (circulation 4,200),
wrote that Ambassador Greg Schulte at the IAEA said Iran must comply
with all United Nations resolutions and end its uranium enrichment
program. It also quoted him as saying Iran could have "highly
enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon by 2010," and added that the
United States is trying to encourage Iran to cooperate through a
combination of negotiations, strong sanctions, and isolation.

14. (U) On October 17, El Mercurio, a conservative, influential
newspaper-of-record (circulation 129,000) highlighted Schulte's trip
to the region "to inform the government officials and experts of
Iran's nuclear program and garner diplomatic support to exert more
pressure on the Iranian government and that Iran will have enough
enriched uranium and the technology to manufacture nuclear weapons
by 2010." In addition to outlining the dual-track strategy for
engaging Iran, El Mercurio noted that Schulte explained the progress
in Iran's nuclear plans, labeling the situation "dangerous and
worrisome for global peace and stability."

15. (U) Ambassador Schulte's media roundtable is viewable in its
entirety on the Santiago web site.

Comment

16. (U) Ambassador Schulte's visit provided opportunities to engage
influential Chileans on both nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear
energy issues. The visit got good press coverage and the bilateral
meetings provided a chance to clarify the IAEA and U.S. position on
Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology and to address Chile's specific
concerns about rights of access to nuclear technology. End
comment.

17. (U) Ambassador Schulte did not clear this message.

SIMONS

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