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Cablegate: Lao Government Informed of Depleted Uranium

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVN #0578 3010954
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 270954Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2270

UNCLAS VIENTIANE 000578

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KNNP MNUC ASEC ENRG KCRM PARM TRGY LA
SUBJECT: LAO GOVERNMENT INFORMED OF DEPLETED URANIUM
AIRCRAFT COUNTERWEIGHT

REF: A. VIENTIANE 569
B. STATE 112711

1. This is an action request. Please see paragraph 3.

2. (SBU) Embassy Vientiane on October 23 spoke with Mr.
Thammavong Phiphatsely to request he encourage his friend,
the purported owner of the depleted uranium aircraft
counterweight notified in ref. A and identified in ref. B, to
turn the item over to the authorities for disposal.
According to Mr. Thammavong, he had already been in touch
with the Ministry of Public Security as his friend was
currently outside Vientiane and unreachable via cell phone.
On October 24 the DCM called upon Mr. Mai Sayavong, Deputy
Director General for Europe and the Americas at the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, to pass on information about the
counterweight, including photos previously emailed to the
Political-Military Action Team. The DCM requested the
Government of Laos (GOL) pick up the counterweight and
dispose of it with due regard to its mild radioactivity. Mr.
Mai told the DCM he would inform the Ministry of National
Defense of the item and the need to secure it.

3. (SBU) ACTION REQUEST: Embassy requests the Department
provide guidance on the following issues:

-- How should the Embassy respond to the GOL should it
request the Embassy take possession and dispose of the
counterweight based upon its perceived origins in a U.S.
plane that likely crashed in Laos during the Indochina
war?

-- How should the Embassy respond to the GOL should it
request advice on how to safely store and dispose of the
counterweight? The GOL is not, to our knowledge, familiar
with safe handling and disposal of even mildly
radioactive items.
HUSO

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