Cablegate: Psi: German Crane Shipment - No Action Expected In

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

S E C R E T MUSCAT 000687


E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/26/2015

E. BERLIN 1388

Classified By: Ambassador Richard L. Baltimore III.
Reason: 1.4 (b, d, e).

1. (S) Begin Summary: The German Ambassador as of COB April 26 has received no instruction from Berlin to take any action with the Omani government to halt a questionable crane shipment to Iran, necessitating the postponing of our scheduled meeting with the Foreign Minister. He indicated that Berlin may not yet have decided that any action, in fact, is warranted. As Embassy Oslo reports that the vessel will arrive and depart Muscat now on April 27, it appears highly unlikely that any action to intercept the cargo will be made in Oman. End summary.

No Word From Germany

2. (S) As of the German Embassy¥s close of business April 26, they had received no/no further instruction from Berlin to take action in Muscat to interdict the crane shipment bound for Iran. Based on ref D e-mails, we informed Ambassador Helmut Blankenstein that time is running short, as the Norwegian ship is now scheduled to arrive and depart from Muscat¥s Port Sultan Qaboos on April 27. Per ref B, we apprised him that the shipping company appears willing to either debark the cranes or at least delay its arrival in Iran for up to a week by calling on other Gulf ports first, but not without guidance from Berlin. (Note: Ref E indicates the German government is now well aware of this. End note.)

Passing the Buck

3. (S) Ambassador Blankenstein expressed frustration that Norway is unwilling to take action independently, pointing out that the German government was not involved in the sale of the equipment and has no authority over the shipping company. No party seems willing to take financial responsibility to prevent the delivery of the equipment to Iran. He noted that Omani MFA Under Secretary Sayyid Badr was likewise offended by the thought that Oman would be asked to take on a financial responsibility that nobody else would. Blankenstein opined further reasons for possible German ambivalence about the shipment. First, the suspected real end-user in Iran was only identified through intelligence reports that may or may not be accurate. Secondly, any goods sold to Iranian consumers, no matter how legitimate, are always subject to re-sale after one year. In other words, the Iranian government would have little difficulty acquiring the cranes through other means.

Too Late for Action?

4. (S) As a practical measure, Ambassador Blankenstein said any instructions he might receive overnight now from Berlin would be of little value. It would take some hours on April 27 to be received by the Foreign Minister (who is involved in the visit of the Thai Prime Minister); the Minister would likely seek clarifications or need to coordinate with other agencies; at the end of which time the ship would have long sailed out of Omani waters.

5. (S) Per ref A, in the absence of German action in Muscat, and in order to avoid getting out ahead of Berlin, the Ambassador postponed his meeting today with Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi. We have a place-holder for a meeting on Wednesday, though the Minister¥s office pointed out schedule difficulties in light of the Thai visit. Given the ship¥s arrival sooner than previously expected, and the growing unlikelihood of a German demarche, it appears exceedingly unlikely that any actions will be taken in Oman to halt the cargo. The ship may call on other Gulf Arab ports in the coming days before heading to Iran, however, should an agreement to that effect be reached between Oslo and Berlin.

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