Cablegate: U.S. Commercial Vessel Request to Meet with Oes

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. This is an action request for OES/OA -- see paragraph 7

2. SUMMARY: Mr. Chuck Collins, representative of 3U
Technologies, requests to meet with OES/OA, L/OES, and other
OES experts sometime between May 23-25 to discuss several
options his company is considering pending resolution of its
request to conduct commercial research in Spanish territorial
waters. Madrid requests that OES/OA (Liz Tirpak) organize
this meeting and inform Mr. Collins directly of the desired
date/time/place. END SUMMARY.

3. As Washington is aware, MFA Note Verbale 127/18, dated
May 11, granted 3U permission to conduct its research program
in Spanish waters. The note (paragraph seven) conditioned
MFA approval on 3U's agreement to board a Spanish Navy
technician while operating in Spanish waters. Via U.S. Note
Verbale 242, dated May 16, we asked, at 3U's request (and
with OES/OA authorization), that the Spanish Navy sign two
non-disclosure agreements prior to the Navy technician
boarding the 3U vessel. The Navy is studying the request and
it remains unclear when and if it will agree to sign these
two documents.

4. Given the above, 3U's ability to conduct its research
campaign in Spanish waters remains uncertain. In a May 17
meeting with ECONCOUNS and ESTHOFF, Mr. Collins indicated
that 3U has lost faith in the GOS and may thus abandon its
plan to conduct research in Spanish waters. If 3U makes this
decision, it will consider three other options: (1) conduct
the research without Spanish authorization in Gibraltar
waters (within the three mile line) and in international
waters off Spain (beyond the 12 mile line); (2) approach
Morocco about conducting the research within Moroccan waters;
or, (3) postpone the research and return to the U.S.

5. Prior to making its business decision, 3U requests
"informal, expert advice" from Department officials.
Specifically, Mr. Collins would like to explore Department
views about option (1) above. In other words, would the USG
interpretation of UNCLOS permit 3U to conduct research
outside the 12 mile line (but inside the 200 mile Spanish
EEZ) without Spanish authorization. Mr. Collins would also
like to know U.S. views about conducting the research within
three miles of Gibraltar (with a UK permit). He is aware of
the controversy surrounding Odyssey's proposal to conduct
maritime salvage operations in this same area. Finally, Mr.
Collin's would like USG views about approaching Morocco, if

6. Mr. Collins may suggest that if 3U chooses option (1),
the USG consider two courses of action to safeguard possible
3U operations beyond the 12 mile line: (A) place a USG
official on board the 3U vessel; and/or, (B) deliver a Note
Verbale to the GOS informing Madrid that 3U plans to conduct
its research beyond the 12 mile line and that the U.S.
interpretation of UNCLOS suggests that no/no GOS permit would
be required for such activity. Mr. Collins believes this
would help dissuade any possible Spanish attempts to
interfere with a potential 3U research cruise beyond the 12
mile line.

7. ACTION REQUEST: Mr. Collins said he would be in
Washington next week and would like to meet with appropriate
State Department experts at any time May 23-25. Embassy
requests that OES/OA organize such a meeting that would
include OES/OA, L/OES, and other appropriate officials.
Embassy requests that OES/OA (Liz Tirpak) call Mr. Collins no
later than May 20 with the date/time/place of this meeting.

8. COMMENT: We understand 3U's frustration and lack of
faith in the GOS's ability to take the steps required to
allow 3U to conduct its research in Spanish waters. To help
inform those who will attend the meeting with Mr. Collins,
ESTHOFF contacted May 18 the Spanish Navy Captain responsible
for both reviewing the 3U provided nondisclosure agreements
and determining the modalities of boarding the Spanish Navy
technician. The Captain said he could not speak with ESTHOFF
without the permission of his Admiral and that he doubted the
Admiral would approve any communication with the Embassy that
does not pass through MFA. ESTHOFF then contacted the
responsible MFA official, who said he could not predict when
or even if the Navy would agree to sign the nondisclosure
agreements. This official said MFA views the agreements as
"routine" and was urging the Navy to sign. The Navy,
however, was seeking a formal MFA legal review of the
documents that could delay further action for weeks. Thus,
at this time, we cannot say with any degree of certainty that
3U will be able to conduct its research in Spanish waters.

9. COMMENT CONTINUED: The block would be removed if 3U
decided it could board the Navy technician without the
nondisclosure documents being signed. But 3U's attorney's
claim that the "Jones Act" requires signature. If 3U remains
firm on this point, and we believe it will, it appears that
the Spanish option could be off the table (at least for the
imminent future). This makes it all the more urgent that
Department experts meet with Mr. Collins to provide USG views
about other research options under consideration. For its
part, Embassy Madrid will continue to work with 3U and OES/OA
to ensure that 3U is well represented and advised as it
continues its efforts to get its project underway.

10. NOTE: Mr. Collins provided ESTHOFF a handwritten
document that he believes could interest participants in the
meeting he has requested. This document has been faxed to
OES/OA (Liz Tirpak).

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