Cablegate: Engaging Jordan On Redirection of Iraqi Wmd

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Anne Harrington, Deputy Director of the Office of
Proliferation Threat Reduction (NP/PTR), Richard Jarvis,
PTR's Iraq Program Manager, and Amman's ESTH Hub Director
visited several Amman-based NGOs to discuss their possible
collaboration with State's program to redirect Iraqi WMD
scientists to civilian, non-weapons work. Accompanying the
State Department team was Dr. Esmail Shubber, an Iraqi
biologist who had previously worked on Iraqi bio-weapons
programs and is now an active participant in State's
redirection program. End Summary.

Meeting Goals:
2. (SBU) A primary goal of the Amman meetings was to
identify potential partners for projects currently being
proposed by former Iraqi WMD scientists which would employ
those and other scientists in tackling problems in the
areas of the environment, water, public health and
agriculture. With the relative ease of access to Amman
from both Iraq and the U.S., the Jordanian capital is a
convenient venue for the interaction of Iraqi scientists
and their western counterparts in the effort to utilize
Iraqi scientific and technical expertise on the many tasks
of national reconstruction. The team was also seeking to
identify possible venues to host redirection workshops and
training programs, including facilities that could support
laboratory-based training.

Meeting Highlights
3. (SBU) The State team visited the Jordanian Royal
Scientific Society (RSS), the Cooperative Monitoring
Center (CMC), and the World Conservation Union
(aka IUCN) on January 31, and the Amman headquarters
of the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) on February 1.

Royal Scientific Society (RSS) -
--------------------------------------------- --
4. (SBU) Royal Society President Dr. Sa'ad al-Hijazi,
and senior RSS staff received the State team on RSS's
85-acre research campus in Amman. Hijazi has been
active in the Jordanian and regional scientific
community and was formerly a university president in
Jordan for 15 years. He offered to work with the
redirection program to help meet any Iraqi and
regional training needs.

5. (U) RSS is a non-profit NGO established in 1970.
Its income is derived from a number of
revenue-generating activities, including quality
assurance testing and other technical services,
studies, research projects and training. It also
receives some funds from the Jordanian government and
local governmental organizations, and by providing
technical services to other governments, and regional
and international organizations. The research staff
numbers just over 600 and at the end of 2003, RSS had
assets valued at USD 28 million, which includes a USD
2.8 million endowment. RSS has 38 laboratories, 18 of
which are internationally accredited, and works with
an extensive number of U.S., European and regional
universities, accreditation programs and scientific

6. (U) The Society's chief fields of expertise include:
building technology; environmental assessment studies;
water harvesting; hazardous and solid waste management;
water quality assessment; air quality management and
control; information technology; chemical analysis;
testing and calibration; non-destructive assay; radiation
monitoring; physical, chemical and mechanical
characterization of metals, plastics, food materials and
products; quality control and product certification;
design and manufacture; and maintenance and repair of
medical equipment. Dr. al-Hijazi highlighted RSS's role
in providing all quality assurance testing for the
government (quality assurance lab certified according to
ISO 9002:2000) and that RSS is responsible for maintenance
and repair of all Ministry of Health equipment. RSS has a
close working relationship with the Japanese and under
their assistance arrangement, the Japanese will be
upgrading the quality assurance labs in the next four
months. In addition to working with Japan, RSS also works
with Germany.

7. (U) RSS conducts a lot of training, particularly in
environment, building sector issues, information
technology, engineering, chemical analysis, and quality
assurance. The National Calibration center works with
technical centers on primary and secondary testing and
analysis equipment.

8. (SBU) Hijazi indicated his strong willingness to work
with the redirection program and agreed to meet with
State's Baghdad-based Program Director, Dr. Peter
Smallwood in the near future to continue discussion and to
work out specific details of ways RSS could assist with
training programs, workshops and conferences.

Cooperative Monitoring Center, Amman (CMC) -
--------------------------------------------- -------------
9. (SBU) CMC director General Mohamed Shiyyab was out of
town and the team was briefed by Head of Administration
Amani Abu Ruqa'a, system engineer Iyad Aldasouqi, and
assistant engineer Tareq Shridah, who explained the CMC
programs and gave a tour of the cooperative monitoring
technology demonstration area. The CMC is housed in the
RSS administration building and can draw on the RSS
expertise and facilities.

10. (U) CMC's main activities include workshops, research
and analysis, and technology development and collaborations
for monitoring security situations. CMC also serves as a
data gathering center for several regional programs that
may be relevant to the redirection program. For example,
its Middle East Meteorological System (MEMS) could add
meteorological sentinel stations in Iraq to the existing
sub-regional system and share resulting MEMS regional data
with Iraq. CMC also does some sub-regional disease
reporting data collection that might be able to include
Iraqi inputs.

World Conservation Union, aka
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
--------------------------------------------- --------
11. (SBU) IUCN ( is an international
organization devoted to biodiversity conservation. It
tries to enhance governance and civil society through
environmental conservation. The Amman office, IUCN
WESCANA, covers 26 countries in three regions: Central
Asia, West Asia, and North Africa. The team met with
Regional Director Dr. Odeh al-Jayyousi and Simon Anstey,
Senior Advisor responsible for the Central Asia region.

12. (U) IUCN programs in West Asia include working with
Yemen and Oman to develop National Biodiversity
Strategies and Action Plans; protected areas programs in
Saudi Arabia and Lebanon; biodiversity capacity building
in Kuwait; and water resources management in Jordan.

13. (U) Iraq was an IUCN member in the early '80s with
the Academy of Sciences, University of Baghdad, and
government offices being involved. IUCN would like to
see Iraq involved again, but that would require some
official entity being able to assume responsibility
for paying annual dues. Dr. Shubber undertook to pass
materials to officials in Baghdad and encourage their
consideration of renewing Iraq's membership. In the
meanwhile, IUCN would be happy to participate in
workshops and other activities that are consistent
with its mandate.

14. (U) Of particular interest to IUCN is its special
project for post-conflict countries that currently
covers Iraq, Kuwait, Israel, Palestine and
Afghanistan. For obvious reasons, IUCN can't do one
project for all and is planning several projects, but
would like to look at whether it is possible to have
a Kuwait-Iraq project. Kuwait already is working on
the issue and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific
Research (KISR) has already done some good work,
according to the IUCN representatives. IUCN was
sensitive to the political issues involved, but hoped
that a collaboration on the scientific level might be
possible. This would be a 4-year plan to study the
ecological impact of war on those two countries.

15. (U) IUCN also can help Iraq develop a national
biodiversity action plan, has knowledge-learning
modules (distance-based), and is interested in a
medium-term project on water governance focusing on
the Tigris-Euphrates, potentially involving also
Turkey and Syria.

A question on Tajikistan
16. (SBU) Mr. Anstey brought to the U.S. team's
attention a situation he came across during a
recent visit to the Tajik 'handle,' near Uzbekistan.
The town of Khojand was a center for uranium
extraction during the Soviet period. According to
Antsey there still are direct flights between
Khojand and Moscow. He heard rumors that there is
a massive underground uranium mining and processing
facility there, which is no longer managed by
anyone. The townspeople are very concerned about
the situation, including possible health effects,
and that there may be attempts by others to obtain
either material or expertise. Anstey asked if we
could look into whether the Science Centers program
(redirecting former Soviet scientists) was aware of
the situation and if anything might be done to
investigate and/or remediate the situation. (NOTE:
On consulting with NP/PTR, we established that there
is a recent Science Center proposal for uranium
contamination assessment in Tajikistan that may
relate to the reports IUCN brought to our attention.)

UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) -
--------------------------------------------- -----
17. (SBU) Henrik Slotte, Head of the Post-Conflict
Assessment Unit in Geneva, flew to Amman to join
Koen Toonen, the Iraq Program Manager for the
meeting with the State team. After a brief
history of the post-conflict unit and description
of some of the environment work done in the Balkans,
Slotte and Toonen described Iraq as their largest
project to date, receiving support from Japan,
the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and others. The
Iraq activities are funded primarily through the
Iraq Trust Fund, which currently supports two
projects: USD 11 million for marsh rehabilitation
(Japan) and USD 2.7 million for capacity building.
The latter has supported a number of workshops to
support environmental law and governance,
environmental impact assessments, environmental
management, and environmental site assessment
training. Training has been done in Geneva,
Spiez (Switzerland), and other locations for small
groups of scientists who went back to Iraq to do
field collection work. The UNEP representative
gave no details on who the scientists were or
where they are working. They did clarify that
they work only with the Iraqi Ministry of
Environment, which is responsible for nominating
all candidates for UNEP's training programs.

18. (SBU) The U.S. team described the Iraq
redirection efforts, emphasizing an interest in
steering project funding to environmental issues
and offering to work with UNEP to provide the
scientific and technical capability needed to
carry out field work. Dr. Shubber presented his
proposal on assaying health and environmental
risks in the Tuwaitha area. The UNEP response
was lukewarm at best. Slotte spoke at length
about a new project for which there is no funding
yet, but for which he indicated substantial
support, to look at the depleted uranium
situation in southern Iraq. He spoke of previous,
similar efforts in the Balkans and said that
Baghdad has asked UNEP to do this work and that
UNEP, while acknowledging that the seriousness of
the problem posed by depleted uranium has not yet
been determined, considers it a priority.

19. (SBU) The U.S. team asked if UNEP would be
interested in being involved in the Tuwaitha
project, noting its potential for addressing a
possibly important problem. Slotte responded
that he understood that Greenpeace had done a
study that might cover the issue. On the matter
of convening a workshop to look at the issue and
review the current status of assessments, UNEP
encouraged us to accelerate the timing and find
a date earlier than August for the workshop, but
was otherwise non-committal. (NOTE: Subsequent
to the visit, UNEP followed up with direct
contact with Drs. Shubber and Smallwood in
Baghdad, indicating interest in remaining in
contact. END NOTE)

20. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.

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