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Cablegate: Hanoi Update #13

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

091021Z Jul 01

2001HANOI01629 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ9173

PAGE 01 HANOI 01629 01 OF 02 091052Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 CA-01 CEA-01 CIAE-00 CTME-00
DINT-00 DOEE-00 ITCE-00 SRPP-00 EB-00 EXME-00 E-00
UTED-00 FBO-00 VC-00 FRB-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00
IO-00 ITC-01 LAB-01 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00
NSCE-00 OES-01 OMB-01 OPIC-01 CAEX-01 PM-00 PRS-00
ACE-00 SP-00 IRM-00 STR-00 TEST-00 USIE-00 VO-03
EPAE-00 PMB-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /015W
------------------02E4F5 091052Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3307
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY PRIORITY
DEPTLABOR WASHDC
DEPTTREAS WASHDC
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA//
SECDEF WASHDC//ISA-EAP
USDOC WASHDC
USDA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001629

SIPDIS

STATE FOR USAID/OFDA
STATE FOR DRL/IL
USDOL FOR ILAB/RSHEPARD AND NSAYRES
STATE ALSO FOR EAP/BCLTV, EAP/EX, E/CBA AND EAP/PD
STATE ALSO FOR CA/EX AND CA/VO
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 01629 01 OF 02 091052Z
SECDEF FOR OSD/ISA/EA/LSTERN
USDOC FOR 4431/MAC/AP/OKSA/HPPHO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ENRG ETMIN
SUBJECT: HANOI UPDATE #13


1. (U) FLOODING IN NORTHERN VIETNAM: RAINY SEASON IS UPON
US. TYPHOON NO. 2 (DURIAN) WAS DOWNGRADED TO A TROPICAL
DEPRESSION JUST BEFORE IT HIT THE MOUNTAINOUS REGIONS OF
NORTHERN VIETNAM JULY 2-4 CAUSING FLOODING AND MUDSLIDES,
KILLING AT LEAST 30 PEOPLE AND DAMAGING NEARLY OVER 30,000
HOMES. HARDEST HIT, BY WHAT IS BEING CALLED THE WORST
FLOODING TO HIT NORTHERN VIETNAM IN YEARS, ARE THE REGIONS
BORDERING THE THAI NGUYEN, CAU AND LO RIVERS, AND AT LEAST
SIX PROVINCES HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY AFFECTED. LOCAL DISASTER
RELIEF EFFORTS ARE REACHING OUT TO THE VICTIMS. THE GVN HAS
NOT ISSUED A CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL DISASTER RELIEF. BUT,
TYPHOON NO. 3 (UTOR), WHICH WREAKED HAVOC IN THE PHILIPPINES
AND TAIWAN, HIT CHINA LAST FRIDAY, AND ALTHOUGH IT TOO WAS
DOWNGRADED TO A TROPICAL DEPRESSION, IT APPEARS TO BE HEADED
TO HIT NORTHERN VIETNAM SHORTLY. THE GOVERNMENT HAS WARNED
PEOPLE TO BE PREPARED. THE QUESTION REMAINS JUST HOW MUCH
MORE RAIN THE WATER-LOGGED HILLSIDES AND SWOLLEN RIVERS CAN
MANAGE WITHOUT CAUSING A MORE WIDESPREAD DISASTER. HYDRO-
METEOROLOGY OFFICE PERSONNEL TELL US, HOWEVER, THERE IS NO
IMMEDIATE THREAT IN THE RED RIVER (HANOI AREA) DESPITE THE
GENERALLY RISING WATERS IN NORTHERN RIVERS. POST WILL
CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THE SITUATION CLOSELY.

2. (U) SON LA HYDROELECTRIC FACILITY APPROVED: AFTER YEARS
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 01629 01 OF 02 091052Z
OF DEBATE, VIETNAM IS COMING CLOSER TO CONSTRUCTING A HUGE
NEW HYDROELECTRIC FACILITY IN SON LAW PROVINCE. IN THE
CLOSING DAYS ITS MOST RECENT SESSION, VIETNAM'S NATIONAL
ASSEMBLY OFFICIALLY "APPROVED IN PRINCIPLE" CONSTRUCTION OF
THE MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR SON LA HYDROELECTRIC POWER PROJECT,
WHILE STILL RESERVING ON HOW BIG THE DAM PROJECT WILL
ACTUALLY BE. TWO WEEKS BEFORE, THE POLITBURO HAD APPROVED
THE PROJECT. AND DESPITE VOCAL OBJECTIONS FROM A NUMBER OF
ASSEMBLY DELEGATES, VIETNAM'S POLITICAL LEADERSHIP PRESSED
FORWARD WITH THE VOTE. THE DAM AND POWER FACILITY ARE TO BE
LOCATED ON THE DA RIVER UPSTREAM FROM THE HOA BINH
HYDROELECTRIC DAM. THREE OPTIONS HAVE BEEN PROPOSED, THE
LARGEST OF WHICH WOULD INUNDATE 440 SQ. KILOMETERS, DISPLACE
UP TO 100,000 OF THE MOSTLY INDIGENOUS LOCAL POPULATION, AND
COST UP TO US$ 4 BILLION. THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOW PRODUCE
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON EACH OF THE OPTIONS, AND THE
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY WILL HOLD A FINAL VOTE DURING ITS FALL
SESSION. AT PRESENT, PLANS ARE TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT BY
2016.

3. (U) SON LA DAM CON'T: SUPPORTERS ARGUE THAT VIETNAM
URGENTLY NEEDS EXPANDED ELECTRICITY GENERATING CAPACITY AND
SHOULD NOT RELY ONLY ON GAS-FIRED POWER FACILITIES WHICH
HAVE BEEN OR WILL BE CONSTRUCTED IN THE VUNG TAU-BA RIA AND
WILL USE GAS FROM THE HUGE NAM CON SON GAS FIELD. IN
ADDITION, THEY ARGUE THAT THIS DAM WILL BE USED FOR
IRRIGATION IN THE SURROUNDING PROVINCES AND TO CONTROL
FLOODING DOWNSTREAM ON THE RED RIVER AND THAI BINH DELTAS
DURING THE RAINY SEASON.

4. (U) SON LA DAM CON'T: BUT THE DELEGATES IN OPPOSITION
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 01629 01 OF 02 091052Z
VOICED MANY OF THE SAME OBJECTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN VOICED FOR
YEARS. FIRST, IT IS ARGUED THERE WILL BE VAST ENVIRONMENTAL
DAMAGE IN THE CATCHMENT AREAS SURROUNDING THE DAM DUE TO
FLOODING AND TREE LOSS AS WELL AS DOWNSTREAM. SAFETY
CONCERNS ARE PERHAPS EVEN MORE PRESSING. THE DAM WOULD BE
LOCATED IN AN EARTHQUAKE PRONE REGION AND IT IS FEARED THAT
A BREACH IN THE DAM WOULD CAUSE THE HOA BINH DAM TO
COLLAPSE, INUNDATING HANOI IN UP TO FIVE STORIES OF WATER IN
A MATTER OF HOURS. THESE ARGUMENTS GAINED GREATER CREDENCE
EARLIER THIS YEAR AFTER NEAR-BY LAI CHAU PROVINCE WAS HIT
WITH AN EARTHQUAKE MEASURING 5.3 ON THE RICHTER SCALE AND
CAUSING SEVERAL MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF STRUCTURAL DAMAGE.

5. (U) SON LA DAM CON'T: OTHERS ARGUE THAT THERE HAS NOT
BEEN SUFFICIENT THOUGHT GIVEN TO THE LOGISTICS AND FINANCES
REQUIRED TO RELOCATE ALL THOSE THAT WILL BE DISPLACED.
SPECIFICALLY, MANY WORRY THAT THE CURRENT PLAN TO SEND THE
DISPLACED POPULATION TO THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS WILL FURTHER
DESTABILIZE THIS REGION WHICH WAS ROCKED BY PROTESTS ON THE
PART OF SOME OF THE REGION'S INDIGENOUS POPULATION IN
FEBRUARY.

6. (U) SON LA DAM CON'T: FINALLY, THERE ARE SERIOUS
QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW VIETNAM WILL FINANCE THE PROJECT. IN
THE PAST, THE VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT HAS INDICATED IT WILL
FINANCE THE PROJECT OUT OF THE STATE BUDGET. HOWEVER, MORE
RECENTLY VIETNAM NEWS QUOTED ONE OFFICIAL AS SAYING THAT 30
PERCENT OF THE FUNDING WOULD COME FROM FOREIGN LOANS.
HOWEVER, WORLD BANK AND OTHER DONORS WILL BE UNLIKELY TO
PROVIDE FUNDING GIVEN CONCERNS ABOUT SAFETY, THE ENVIRONMENT
AND DISPLACED PERSONS. AND FOREIGN INVESTMENT IS UNLIKELY
TO BE AN OPTION, EVEN IF THE GVN IS WILLING TO CONSIDER
PERMITTING IT, GIVEN THE PROBLEMS VIETNAM HAS HAD IN THE
PAST COMING TO AGREEMENT WITH PRIVATE INVESTORS ON OTHER
ELECTRICITY GENERATION PROJECTS.

7. (U) SON LA DAM - COMMENT: FOR NOW AT LEAST, THE
VIETNAMESE LEADERSHIP SEEMS DETERMINED TO IGNORE THE
QUESTIONS AND MOVE FORWARD. BUT EVENTUALLY, THESE CONCERNS
WILL HAVE TO BE ADDRESSED. ONE HOPES THAT THIS OCCURS
SOONER RATHER THAN LATER WHEN CONSTRUCTION IS STARTED,
PEOPLE ARE MOVING AND FUNDS BEING SPENT. COMMENT

PETERSON

UNCLASSIFIED

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