Cablegate: Iaea/Tacc Wrap-Up: Syria Overshadows November Tacc


DE RUEHUNV #0640/01 3401240
O 051240Z DEC 08 ZDK



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A) UNVIE 626 B) STATE 124603 C) UNVIE 620


1. (SBU) Debate over the Syrian proposal for a nuclear power
feasibility study was the main event at the November 24-26
IAEA Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee (TACC)
meeting. In the end, the U.S. and other likeminded agreed
not to block consensus on the entire 2009-2011 Technical
Cooperation (TC) program over objections to the proposed
nuclear power "feasibility" project for Syria in exchange for
closer Secretariat and Board scrutiny of this project. After
three days of pointed debate, including a personal and highly
inappropriate intervention by Director General ElBaradei in
support of the Syrian project (accompanied by distribution by
the Secretariat of a non-paper defending the project's
technical aspects), the TACC recommended approval of the TC
program in its entirety. Our negotiation of the Chair's
summary secured commitments that the Secretariat would
monitor the project closely, would procure equipment only in
accordance with technical requirements, and that those states
that raised concerns over the project "in the light of
further developments, have the right to revisit, as required,
the issue pursuant to the Statute." This outcome retains for
us and others the option of reopening the TC issue based on
reporting from the ongoing IAEA investigation into Syria's
undeclared nuclear activities.

2. (SBU) While Syria dominated the discussion at the November
TACC, with accusations of TC "politicization" heard from
several Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and G-77 states in this
context, a number of other TC issues were also addressed.
These included the recommendation from Australia that all
recipients of TC have an approved Country Program Framework
(CPF). (Note: Several states, including Syria, have only a
draft CPF; some have no CPF.) Many NAM states quickly
rejected the move to make CPFs obligatory as an illegal basis
to restrict requests for technical support, since CPFs are
not legally binding documents. Also discussed were the 2007
Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) evaluations of
the Agency's TC projects on sustainable intensification of
crop production systems, the Agency's approach to
interregional TC programs, and the Agency's use of Thematic
Planning in designing and implementing TC. The thematic
planning evaluation received the most attention, specifically
OIOS's recommendation that the Agency take into account the
Commission of Eminent Persons (CEP) Report when revising the
TC Strategy. Several states cautioned that the Secretariat
should draw guidance from the CEP only after consultation
with the member states themselves. END SUMMARY.


3. (SBU) In a highly polarized atmosphere, the November
24-26, 2008 TACC struggled for three days to come to
consensus on the 2009-2011 TC program. U.S. and likeminded
objections to including the Syrian project on "Conducting a
Technical and Economic Feasibility Study and Site Selection
for a Nuclear Power Plant" were the central front (ref C).
From the first statement made at the TACC by Cuba on behalf
of the NAM it was apparent that consensus on the Syrian
project would be difficult to achieve. The NAM and G-77
states quickly circled the wagons in defense of the project
in preparation for a fight over "politicization" of TC.
These states charged such "politicization" would be in
contradiction of INFCIRC 267 and Article 3.C of the IAEA
Statute, which preclude the restriction of technical
cooperation based on political, military or economic concerns
inconsistent with the Statute.

4. (SBU) As noted in ref C, among those making statements in
defense of the project were Brazil (for the G-77), Cuba (for
NAM), Venezuela (GRULAC), Zimbabwe (Africa Group), Malaysia,
China, Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iran and Syria.
Many statements were highly charged and accused those voicing
concerns about the project of undermining the fundamental
bargain of the NPT. Several states emphasized the
"inalienable right" of developing countries to engage in
peaceful civil nuclear activities without discrimination, and
underscored their belief that it was essential for the
credibility of the Agency that TC not be subject to any
political, economic, or military conditions. Egypt escalated
the rhetoric further by calling into question Israel's
receipt of TC which could potentially contribute to military

5. (SBU) Spain dashed any hopes for EU unity in opposition to
the project by calling for adoption of the TC program by
consensus and without changes. Spain's remarks contradicted
the EU statement delivered earlier in the day by France, in
its capacity as EU President, which did not mention Syria by
name but expressed specific concerns about the project and
its design, invited the Secretariat to review its procedures
for vetting TC project proposals from "states under
investigation," and noted that the EU would have preferred a
deferral of the project in question. Australia, Canada, New
Zealand, South Korea, U.K., and the U.S. all made strong
statements voicing concern over the project. (Comment: The
lack of a common EU position handicapped efforts to have the
project pulled from the TC program, though France later
participated as an "observer" in likeminded demarches to the
Board Chair to broker the agreement that led to adoption of
the program. Japan was conspicuously silent on the matter,
which may be related to Ambassador Amano's candidacy for the
Director General position. End comment.)

6. (SBU) DG ElBaradei's strong personal intervention,
immediately following the U.S. statement and after Canada had
earlier stated that it too could not join consensus on the
full TC program, gave Syria and its NAM supporters a
confidence and swagger for the remainder of the TACC.
ElBaradei stated he was "concerned about the concerns
expressed" as they appeared to convey lack of confidence in
the Secretariat's work. Moreover, he proceeded to outline
the Statutory requirements for the Secretariat to suspend TC
to a member state, which were not met by the current
situation (ref C). ElBaradei dismissed the allegations of
undeclared nuclear activity in Syria as an insufficient basis
to restrict TC, his recent report notwithstanding, and
pointedly noted that one must be deliberate and complete in
assessing allegations of covert nuclear activities, recalling
that, in the case of Iraq, "claims" were shown to be
"bonkers" after a disastrous war. ElBaradei emphasized the
legal standard of "innocent before proven guilty" and
observed that sanctions must be applied with respect to due

7. (SBU) Likeminded states made very clear their objections
and significant concerns with the project both in public and
private, but in the end, especially given the DG's posture,
there was no hope for gaining agreement to drop the project
and similarly dim prospects for winning any vote on the
matter. A group of four likeminded states (U.S., U.K.,
Canada, and Australia) negotiated a compromise with the Board
Chair and DG, whereby the Syrian project would be the subject
of close ongoing scrutiny. Last-minute negotiations by the
Board Chair with the NAM/G-77 (including Syria itself) on the
agreed text almost derailed agreement, which was saved only
by a final intervention by Australia in the Board meeting.
After consultation with the U.S. and like-minded, Australia
proposed to add the phrase "in light of developments" to the
final sentence of the agreed text (see para 9) ahead of
"pursuant to the Statute." (Comment: The implication is
that the project may be reviewed in light of developments in
the safeguards investigation. End comment). Board Chair
Feroukhi reluctantly agreed to the addition following several
side-bars with the NAM.

8. (SBU) In the TACC discussions, as well as during a
technical experts discussion with Secretariat officials
arranged by the Chair, and in the official report of the TACC
to the Board of Governors, likeminded states shed
considerable light on the project's shortcomings and achieved
a measure of additional scrutiny over implementation of this
project. We extracted assurances that equipment procurement
for the project would occur only in line with technical needs
(i.e., not soon). Likeminded states also succeeded in making
clear that the Secretariat and recipient states cannot expect
the TACC to "rubber stamp" objectionable projects in the
future. Finally, likeminded states opened a window for
re-examining the project pending developments in the ongoing
safeguards investigation. In return, the likeminded
reluctantly agreed with the NAM to reference the Statute in
the final TACC report, which the NAM interpret, in line with
the DG's intervention, as a prohibition against turning down
any TC project absent a formal Board finding of
non-compliance pursuant to Article 12c of the Statute,
followed by an opportunity by the state to remedy that

9. (SBU) The official report of the TACC to the Board of
Governors may be found on the IAEA GovAtom website in IAEA
document GOV/2008/61, entitled "Report of the Technical
Assistance and Cooperation Committee on its meetings held
from 24 to 26 November 2008." After relaying the concerns of
member states with the TC project, paragraph 16 of the report
contains the compromise language:
-- "A number of states expressed strong reservations about
Project SYR/0/020 pointing out that it came at a time when
Syria had not yet provided all the cooperation required by
the Agency regarding the ongoing inquiry into allegations
that a nuclear reactor was under construction without the
required reporting to the Agency and possible other related
activities. Those states considered that in such
circumstances it would be prudent to take a cautious approach
towards the provision of Technical Cooperation for any
nuclear power-related projects in this context. The
Secretariat stated that, in the discharge of its functions,
it would monitor the project closely, report as appropriate,
and ensure that any equipment provided is used only for the
purposes intended. The Secretariat further advised that site
selection and evaluation was a process with a number of
phases, and accordingly the procurement of equipment
envisaged in the project will occur appropriately in
accordance with technical requirements. With this
understanding, and in the spirit of compromise, those states
agreed to the action recommended in document
GOV/2008/47/Rev.1, based on their understanding that, similar
to all Member States, in the light of further developments,
they have the right to revisit, as required, the issue
pursuant to the Statute."

10. (SBU) The TACC report was adopted by consensus in the
Board of Governors meeting November 27 with minimal debate,
and virtually no further references to the Syria project
issue. (One condition of the consensus outcome was that all
sides agreed not re-visit the issue in the Board discussion;
see septel.)


11. (SBU) Moving on to other business but still very much in
the shadow of the ongoing Syria debate, the TACC took up the
OIOS report on the 2007 Evaluations of Technical Cooperation
Activities. The report covers evaluations of the Agency's TC
projects on sustainable intensification of crop production
systems, the Agency's approach to interregional TC programs,
the Agency's use of Thematic Planning in designing and
implementing TC, and the Agency's use of Country Program
Frameworks to facilitate program management and screening of
projects. The thematic planning evaluation received the most
attention, specifically OIOS's recommendation that the Agency
take into account the Commission of Eminent Persons Report
when revising the TC Strategy. Several Board members
cautioned the latter should only be done after consultation
with the member states.

12. (SBU) The Agency's use of the Country Program Framework
(CPF) model to manage TC projects and coordinate with member
states on their respective TC needs was by far the second
most widely discussed topic at the Board following the Syria
project. The CPF discussion was however still very much
wrapped up in the context of the Syria debate, as the
likeminded pointed out that Syria does not have an approved
CPF, and the current draft, per information issued by the
Secretariat, does not include nuclear power as a priority
area for development. (NOTE: CPFs are not publicly available
documents and may only be released to other member states
with the consent of the originating party. Therefore, member
states are only able to glean information noted in the
country overviews supplied by the Secretariat prior to the
TACC. END NOTE.) The NAM, G-77 plus China, and the Africa
group all expressed the views that: CPFs are not legally
binding documents, the use of CPFs should not result in the
restriction of TC to any state and CPFs should be undertaken
with the necessary flexibility to allow the Secretariat to
take into account specific situations in various member
states. They further argued that CPFs should allow the
Agency to respond to the needs and priorities identified by
member states themselves.

13. (SBU) The EU proposed that access to CPFs should be made
available to all member states so that donor countries can
more easily see the needs and priorities of recipient states,
similar to the practice in the UN Development Fund. Australia
further urged that all recipients of TC should have an
approved Country Program Framework, a principle which many
NAM states quickly rejected as an illegal basis to restrict
requests for technical support.

14. (SBU) On other issues, the Secretariat's evaluation of
the Agency's TC projects on sustainable intensification of
crop production systems was welcomed and widely supported by
the African and Latin American countries as well as by Spain,
while Canada expressed concern that the evaluation lacked any
financial assessment. Australia and Canada noted that the
Agency's use of thematic planning had fallen into disrepair,
and urged the Secretariat to address its weaknesses through
the articulation of clearer priorities, while others noted
that thematic planning was carried out with limited
involvement of member states, a circumstance which hampered
its effectiveness.

15. (SBU) Both France, on behalf of the EU, and Germany in
its national capacity urged greater coordination of Agency
activities with the broader United Nations interagency, in
the context of the "One UN" campaign, noting with
disappointment the lack of coordination between the IAEA and
other UN development organizations in the areas of health,
agriculture, and water resource management. Finally, Spain
noted problems with coordination of interregional projects,
while Argentina, China, and Mexico joined in urging the
Secretariat to address the limitations of interregional
planning in coordination with member states involved in the
formulation process of the projects.

16. (SBU) COMMENT: Looking forward, Mission will work closely
with the Secretariat to scrutinize progress on implementation
of the Syrian TC project and ensure the IAEA's own monitoring
is rigorous. Addressing the larger issues surrounding the
appropriateness and consistency of TC project planning and
design, Mission will submit septel an analysis, based on
current practice and past OIOS evaluations, of how we can
best posture ourselves and engage the Secretariat to help
avoid a repeat of the ill-conceived Syrian project and, more
generally, how the TC program can be improved. Our concerns
and those of like-minded states, some of whom support TC as a
nonproliferation program while others' contributions are
funded as development assistance, present a broad agenda for
reform for this most hidebound of IAEA program areas. END


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>


Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>


  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC