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Cablegate: Us Dod Seeks Environmental Cooperation Program with Vietnam Military

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


2000HANOI01712 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ8247

PAGE 01 HANOI 01712 01 OF 03 101336Z
ACTION AID-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 CTME-00 ITCE-00 SRPP-00
EAP-00 EB-00 EXME-00 UTED-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 ITC-01
NSAE-00 OMB-01 OPIC-01 PM-00 SS-00 STR-00 TRSE-00
PMB-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /003W
------------------786AAB 101404Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0530
SECDEF WASHDC
INFO AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA/J5/J07/J52//
CDRTAMC HONOLULU HI//COE//
USDOE WASHINGTON DC
HQ EPA WASHDC
USDOC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 001712

SIPDIS

DEPT PASS TO USAID
DEFENSE FOR PADUSD VEST, LSTERN
BANGKOK FOR REGIONAL ENVIRONMENT OFFICER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MASS EAID VM US
SUBJECT: US DOD SEEKS ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION PROGRAM WITH VIETNAM MILITARY

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 01712 01 OF 03 101336Z
SUMMARY

1. FROM JUL 31-AUG 3, A FOUR-PERSON USDOD TEAM
VISITED VIETNAM FOR TALKS WITH VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS ON
ENHANCING COOPERATION ON MILITARY ENVIRONMENT AND
HEALTH ISSUES. AGREEMENT WAS REACHED TO CONSIDER U.S.
SUPPORT TO THE GVN IN EFFORTS TO HOST A REGIONAL
ENVIRONMENTAL WORKSHOP IN THEIR ROLE AS THE ASEAN
REGIONAL FORUM (ARF) CHAIRMAN; PURSUE A COOPERATIVE
EFFORT WITH THE AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN
VIETNAM (AMCHAM), THE SOCIETY OF AMERICAN MILITARY
ENGINEERS (SAME), AND THE VIETNAMESE PARTY TO HOLD AN
ENVIRONMENTAL WORKSHOP OR TRADE FAIR TO DEVELOP
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION CAPABILITY AND CAPACITY (WITH
EMPHASIS ON MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS); AND TO
CONSIDER A SERIES OF JOINT WORKSHOPS ON THE
COMPREHENSIVE APPROACHES TO DEALING WITH CONTAMINATED
MILITARY SITES INCLUDING THOSE INVOLVING HERBICIDE
ORANGE AND TEAR GAS (CS). US AND VIETNAM OFFICIALS
WILL FURTHER DEVELOP A FRAMEWORK FOR MILITARY-RELATED
ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION ACTIVITIES IN THE WEEKS
AHEAD. END SUMMARY.

VEST DELEGATION VISIT

2. FROM JUL 31-AUG 3, A FOUR-PERSON USDOD TEAM
VISITED VIETNAM FOR TALKS WITH VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS
REGARDING ENHANCING COOPERATION BETWEEN THE TWO
GOVERNMENTS ON MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH
ISSUES. THIS USDOD TEAM ON MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL
COOPERATION WITH VIETNAM WAS LED BY MR. GARY VEST,
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 01712 01 OF 03 101336Z
PRINCIPAL ASSISTANT DEPUTY UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY, AND INCLUDED
REPRESENTATIVES FROM HQ USAF, HQ PACAF, AND HQ
USCINCPAC. EMBOFF'S INCLUDED DATT AND STE.

3. PRIOR TO MEETING WITH VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS, THE
TEAM MET WITH THE AMBASSADOR AND COUNTRY TEAM
REGARDING THE APPROACH TO TAKE IN ITS DISCUSSIONS.
THE AMBASSADOR EMPHASIZED THE POLITICAL ASPECTS OF THE
ALLEGED HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS ACROSS THE
COUNTRY RESULTING FROM THE USE OF HERBICIDE ORANGE
(HO). HE BELIEVES WE NEED TO APPROACH THE VIETNAMESE
MINISTRY OF DEFENSE WITH SOME CONCRETE INITIATIVES TO
DEVELOP TRUST AND CONFIDENCE WITHOUT VIOLATING U.S.
LAW. THE AMBASSADOR ALSO EXPRESSED HOPE THAT THE TEAM
WOULD FRAME THIS ISSUE IN THEIR BROADER NATIONAL
ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH CONTEXTS, AND LOOK FOR WAYS
TO PROVIDE EXPERTISE TO ENHANCE THE VIETNAMESE
GOVERNMENT'S INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY TO DEAL WITH ITS
OWN ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH PROBLEMS.

4. DURING THE VISIT, THE TEAM MET WITH REPRESENTATIVES
OF THE VIETNAMESE MINISTRIES OF NATIONAL DEFENSE AND
FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AS WELL AS THE AMERICAN CHAMBER OF
COMMERCE IN HANOI. THE TEAM ALSO TRAVELED TO DA NANG
AIRPORT TO VISIT A SITE SUSPECTED TO BE CONTAMINATED
WITH HO.

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS MEETING

5. ON AUG 1 THE DELEGATION MET MR. NGUYEN MANH HUNG,
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 01712 01 OF 03 101336Z
DIRECTOR OF AMERICAS DEPARTMENT, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN
AFFAIRS. MR. HUNG ASKED ABOUT HO AND MR. VEST
EXPLAINED THE US NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENTAL
HEALTH SCIENCES (NIEHS) EFFORT AND UPCOMING MEETINGS.
MR. HUNG IS CONCERNED WE WILL ONLY HAVE SCIENTISTS
LOOK AT THE ISSUES, BUT THE REAL-LIFE ISSUES WILL
STILL REMAIN AT THE FORMER-U.S. INSTALLATIONS AND THE
AREAS WHERE HO AND CS WERE EMPLOYED. MR. HUNG IS ALSO
CONCERNED WITH POTENTIAL COSTS TO CLEAN UP THE
CONTAMINATED SITES. MR. VEST EXPLAINED THE IDEA OF
LEVERAGING PRIVATE INDUSTRY IN REDEVELOPMENT EFFORTS
AND SOLICITING SUPPORT OF NGOS. MR. HUNG AGREED TO
CONSIDER U.S. SUPPORT TO THE GVN IN EFFORTS TO HOST A
REGIONAL MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL WORKSHOP IN THEIR ROLE
AS THE ARF CHAIRMAN. HE WILL ADDRESS THE ISSUE WITH
HIS MINISTER AND CONTACT THIS POST WITH THE DECISION.

AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AMCHAM) MEETING

6. LATER ON AUG 1, THE TEAM MET WITH AMERICAN CHAMBER
OF COMMERCE (AMCHAM) REPRESENTATIVES. THEY CONFIRMED
ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS OF THE COUNTRY IS HIGH. THEY
ALSO ADVISED THAT VIETNAM PASSING ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
AND DECREES IS VERY SIMPLE. THE PROBLEM COMES IN
DEVELOPING IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS AND FUTURE
ENFORCEMENT OF THE SAME. AMCHAM CAN PLAY A ROLE IN
THIS AS A LOBBY/ADVISOR. THEY CONCUR THAT A WORKSHOP
OF PRIVATE INDUSTRY, NGOS, AND THE MILITARY WOULD
BENEFIT VIETNAM, IN FACT, THEY MENTIONED IT WOULD BE
"IRRESISTIBLE" TO THE BUSINESS SECTOR. MR. VEST
DISCUSSED THE POSSIBILITY OF ENLISTING THE SOCIETY OF
AMERICAN MILITARY ENGINEERS (SAME) AS THE LEAD AGENT
FOR SUCH A WORKSHOP. LT COL MILLER, U.S. DEFENSE
ATTACHE IN HANOI, MENTIONED THE COMMUNIST PARTY MAY BE
THE MOST APPROPRIATE VIETNAMESE ORGANIZATION TO
SPONSOR SUCH AN EFFORT, SINCE IT CROSSES GOVERNMENT
FUNCTIONAL BORDERS. AMCHAM WILL WORK WITH TDA TO
BRING THEM INTO THE EFFORT. AMCHAM RECOMMENDED THE
WORKSHOP BE TIMED TO FOLLOW CLOSELY AFTER THE SENATE
RATIFIES THE TRADE AGREEMENT, ANTICIPATED TO BE FIRST
QUARTER OF CY01. REALISTICALLY, IT WILL TAKE 12-18
MONTHS TO ORGANIZE SUCH A WORKSHOP. THE FIRST STEP IS
TO IDENTIFY ALL PLAYERS AND START ORGANIZATIONAL
MEETINGS. DUSD(ES) WILL COORDINATE THAT EFFORT.
MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE MEETING

7. ON AUG 1 THE TEAM MET WITH A NINE-PERSON VIETNAM
MINISTRY OF DEFENSE TEAM INCLUDING REPRESENTATIVES
FROM THE SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND ENVIRONMENT
MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT, THE CHEMICAL COMMAND, THE
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 01712 02 OF 03 100909Z
MILITARY MEDICINE ACADEMY, AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL
SECURITY DEPARTMENT. THE MOD DELEGATION IDENTIFIED
THE RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND TREATMENT OF HO EFFECTS
ON HUMANS AS THEIR NUMBER ONE ENVIRONMENTAL PRIORITY.
THEY REVIEWED THEIR RESEARCH EFFORTS TO DATE.
(COMMENT: THIS MEETING WAS THE FIRST TIME THIS POST
WAS MADE AWARE THAT MOD WAS WORKING THIS ASPECT OF THE
ISSUE. END COMMENT). ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS AND IN A
FORMAL DOCUMENT THE VIETNAMESE REPRESENTATIVES ASKED
THE TEAM TO FUND EQUIPMENT, TRAINING, AND STUDIES
ASSOCIATED WITH RESEARCHING HEALTH EFFECTS ASSOCIATED
WITH EXPOSURE TO HO AND CLEANUP OF SITES ALLEGEDLY
CONTAMINATED BY HO AND CS. THE US TEAM STRESSED
REPEATEDLY WE COULD NOT FUND SUCH EFFORTS, BUT WOULD
PROVIDE THE GVN THE INFORMATION WE HAVE ON THE TOPICS.
THE TWO PARTIES AGREED TO EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITY OF
HOLDING A SERIES OF JOINT WORKSHOPS ON COMPREHENSIVE
APPROACHES TO DEALING WITH CONTAMINATED MILITARY
SITES, INCLUDING THOSE INVOLVING HO AND CS. THE
PURPOSE OF THESE WORKSHOPS WOULD BE TO SUPPORT VIETNAM
MOD EFFORTS IN BUILDING INTERNAL INSTITUTIONAL
CAPACITY AND CAPABILITY BY PROVIDING AND DISCUSSING
INFORMATION ON CLEANUP METHODOLOGIES AND AVAILABLE
SITE INFORMATION. THE TWO PARTIES PLAN TO RAISE THESE
ISSUES FURTHER IN THE WEEKS AHEAD WITHIN THEIR RESPECTIVE
GOVERNMENTS. THE USDOD WILL PROVIDE A PROPOSED AGENDA
FOR THE FIRST WORKSHOP WITHIN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS.
VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS WERE UNANIMOUS IN EXPRESSING
THEIR APPRECIATION TO THE USG FOR SENDING THE USDOD
TEAM TO INITIATE MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION.

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 01712 02 OF 03 100909Z
FIELD VISIT - DA NANG AIRPORT

8. ON AUG 3, THE TEAM TRAVELED TO DA NANG AIRPORT FOR
A FIRST HAND TOUR OF A PORTION OF THE FORMER US
AIRBASE SUSPECTED TO BE CONTAMINATED WITH HO. THE MOD
DELEGATION SHOWED THE US DELEGATION A LOCATION AT THE
NORTH END OF THE PARALLEL TAXIWAY WHERE THEY SUSPECT
THE USAF PERFORMED LOADING, STORAGE, AND AIRCRAFT
WASHDOWN OPERATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH THE EMPLOYMENT OF
HO. (COMMENT: SOME AREAS WERE OBSERVED TO BE DEVOID
OF VEGETATION. END COMMENT). THE MOD HAS CONTAINED
THE RUNOFF IN THE AREA WITH A CONCRETE CHANNEL RUNNING
TO A THREE CHAMBER CONCRETE CATCHMENT BASIN. THE MOD
DELEGATION INFORMED USDOD THE CATCHMENT BASIN IS
ACTUALLY THE RUNOFF FILTRATION SYSTEM CONTAINING
APPROXIMATELY TEN TONNES OF CARBON. THE COLLECTION
AND TREATMENT SYSTEM HAS BEEN IN PLACE APPROXIMATELY
TWO YEARS AND HAS BEEN EFFECTIVE REMOVING CONTAMINANTS
TO THE 10-PPT LEVEL. THE MOD BELIEVES THERE IS
APPROXIMATELY ONE YEAR OF LIFE LEFT IN THE FILTER AND
THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THE CARBON
AFTERWARDS. MR. VEST PROPOSED THAT USDOD COULD ATTEMPT
TO COLLECT EXISTING INFORMATION IT HAS CONCERNING THE
SITE AND PROVIDE IT TO THE MOD. USDOD WOULD COMPILE
AS MUCH EXISTING DATA AS IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM
SOURCES SUCH AS UNIT HISTORIES, RECORD SEARCHES, AND
INTERVIEWS OF KNOWLEDGEABLE PEOPLE. MR. VEST ALSO
SUGGESTED THAT USDOD COULD MAKE AVAILABLE EXPERTS AND
SCIENTISTS FAMILIAR WITH HO AND THE CLEANUP OF HO AT
AN AIR BASE IN GULFPORT, MS.

SUMMARY MEETING

9. LATER ON AUG 3, THE TEAM RETURNED TO HANOI TO
SUMMARIZE FINDINGS AND TO FORM A CONSENSUS ON FUTURE
ACTIONS. MR. VEST EXPLAINED THERE ARE LEGAL
RESTRICTIONS PROHIBITING USDOD FROM ENGAGING IN
CLEANUP OF FORMER BASES, AND THAT THERE ARE
RESTRICTION TO WHAT WE CAN PROVIDE IN THE WAY OF
EQUIPMENT AND CAPITAL WITHIN A MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL
COOPERATIVE PROGRAM. HE COMMITTED TO DETERMINING HOW
MUCH FLEXIBILITY USDOD MAY BE ALLOWED IN THESE
SPECIFIC SITUATIONS. THE GROUP AGREED TO CONSIDER AT
LEAST ONE OR TWO WORKSHOPS. AT THE WORKSHOPS, THE
USDOD WOULD PROVIDE INFORMATION ON EQUIPMENT,
TECHNOLOGY, METHODOLOGY, COSTS, AND EFFICIENCIES
ASSOCIATED WITH SITE CLEANUPS WITH AN EMPHASIS ON THE
DA NANG AIRPORT. USDOD WOULD ALSO DISCUSS THE SHORT-,
INTERMEDIATE-, AND LONG-TERM ASPECTS OF SITE
MANAGEMENT AND REVIEW THE EMERGENCY PROCEDURES ALREADY
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 01712 03 OF 03 100939Z
EMPLOYED. FOR THIS EXAMPLE AND MODEL BUILDING, WE
WOULD BRING AS MUCH APPLICABLE EXISTING DATA AS IS A
SECOND WORKSHOP WOULD BE OF A SIMILAR APPROACH, BUT
WOULD DISCUSS CS. THE TWO SIDES AGREED THESE EFFORTS
NEED TO MOVE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

10. PADUSD VEST FOLLOWED UP THE SUMMARY MEETING WITH
A PRESS CONFERENCE AT THE EMBASSY ANNEX. MEDIA REACTION
HAS BEEN REPORTED IN REUTERS NEWS SERVICE AND THE NEW YORK
TIMES.

CONCLUSION AND COMMENT

11. THE USDOD TEAM VISIT ON MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL
COOPERATION WITH VIETNAM LED BY PADUSD VEST WAS A
SUCCESS AND ACHIEVED A SIGNIFICANT COUNTRY TEAM
OBJECTIVE. THE VIETNAM GOVERNMENT APPRECIATES THE
VISIT AND THE ATTENTION IT SIGNIFIES ON OUR PART.
VIETNAM IS CONSIDERING THE ENHANCED COOPERATION THAT
WILL HELP THE COUNTRY ADDRESS ITS ENVIRONMENTAL
PROBLEMS -- AKEY U.S. OBJECTIVE HERE. PADUSD VEST
STRUCK JUST THE RIGHT NOTE IN ALL OF HIS MEETINGS AND
IN HIS PRESS CONFERENCE. HE CONVEYED EFFECTIVELY THE
MESSAGE THAT THE USDOD IS NOT INSENSITIVE TO VIETNAMESE
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS RELATING TO HO AND CS AND THAT
WE ARE PREPARED TO COOPERATE TO BUILD VIETNAMESE
INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY TO MANAGE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES,
INCLUDING THOSE ASSOCIATED WITH HO AND CS. THE INTER-
AGENCY TEAM DID NOT OFFER TO CLEAN UP FORMER U.S.
INSTALLATIONS OR SITES SUSPECTED TO BE CONTAMINATED
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 01712 03 OF 03 100939Z
WITH HO OR CS.

12. POST LOOKS FORWARD TO WORKING WITH USDOD AGENCIES
IN FOLLOWING UP THE VARIOUS COMMITMENTS MADE AND
IDENTIFYING WAYS TO SUPPORT ENHANCED ENVIRONMENTAL
COOPERATION WITH VIETNAM. RECOMMEND ALSO THAT CINCPAC
INCORPORATE THESE ACTIVITIES INTO PACOM'S ENGAGEMENT
STRATEGY AND PLAN.

PETERSON

UNCLASSIFIED

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