Cablegate: Spain: Mfa Request for U.S. Help to Stop Sale Of
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 MADRID 003519
DEPARTMENT FOR ISN/MTR (VAN DIEPEN AND DURHAM) AND EUR/WE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/04/2015
TAGS: PARM PREL PGOV ETTC SP MTCR
SUBJECT: SPAIN: MFA REQUEST FOR U.S. HELP TO STOP SALE OF
EXPLOSIVES PLANT TO LIBYA
REF: FORDER-DURHAM EMAILS
Classified By: ESTHOFF KEN FORDER PER 1.4 (B/D)
1. (U) This is an Action Request for ISN/MTR -- see
2. (S) MFA Disarmament Affairs Ambassador Tomas
Rodriguez-Pantoja summoned ESTHOFF September 30 to MFA.
Rodriguez-Pantoja said that during the U.S.-Spain bilat on
the first day of the September 12-16 Madrid MTCR plenary, and
in a subsequent side bar meeting during a plenary Information
Exchange session, Spain had raised with the ISN/MTR Office
Director Van Diepen the request by the Spanish firm
"Espinesa" to sell a Nitrate-based explosives manufacturing
plant to Libya (allegedly for mining-related conventional
3. (S) Rodriguez-Pantoja explained that the Spanish firm
first wanted to sell the explosives plant in 2000. Spain
checked with the U.S., which in May and September of 2001
advised Spain to block the sale, arguing that the plant could
easily be converted into a missile fuel production facility
for Libya's SCUD missiles. Spain eventually turned off the
sale, prohibiting it for a period of three years.
Rodriguez-Pantoja said the company had sued the GOS after it
blocked the sale in 2001, and that this suit remained pending
in the Spanish courts. All the while, the entire plant has
been sitting in a Valencia warehouse waiting to be sold.
4. (S) Rodriguez-Pantoja noted that the GOS three year sale
moratorium had now expired and that in the meantime, Libya
had started to return to the "normal" community of nations
(leaving "rogue" status behind). "Espinesa" recently asked
the GOS for permission to make the same sale to Libya,
arguing that the three year ban had expired and Libya was now
a friendly and cooperative country. Rodriguez-Pantoja said
the Libyan Government had leaned very heavily on the Spanish
Embassy in Tripoli, requesting repeatedly that Spain let the
sale go through.
5. (S) MFA, according to Rodriguez-Pantoja, does not/not
think the sale should go through. Neither does the CNA (the
Spanish CIA equivalent). Both argue that while the current
Libyan Government may have changed its spots, a coup could
happen any day and a less friendly/responsible Libyan regime
could emerge. Rodriguez-Pantoja stressed that Libya retains
400 medium range SCUDs with the ability to strike Israel and
that this explosives plant could easily be converted from
producing mining explosives into producing SCUD missile fuel.
Thus, MFA and CNA want to extend the sales band to 2008
(three more years). However, the Libyan lobbying of the
Spanish Embassy, as well as pressure from the company, has
led the GOS to reopen the issue.
6. (S) The reason for summoning ESTHOFF to MFA,
Rodriguez-Pantoja explained, was to request U.S. support for
MFA/CNA efforts to continue to block the sale.
Rodriguez-Pantoja said that if the U.S. were to officially
informed Madrid that it opposed the sale, this would
strengthen MFA's case to extend the sales ban through 2008.
In brief, MFA and CNA want the USG as bureaucratic allies in
their battle to gain GOS approval to prohibit the sale for
three more years.
7. (S) Rodriguez-Pantoja said that ISN/MTR Office Director
Van Diepen had indicated to him at the plenary that the U.S.
would likely oppose the sale, but would have to confirm this
after Van Diepen's return to Washington. Rodriguez-Pantoja
said he was now, via this meeting, requesting an official
communication of USG views on the sale. Either in writing or
delivered orally through ESTHOFF would be acceptable.
Rodriguez-Pantoja said the communication could also go
through CIA-CNA channels if the U.S. preferred. He said he
would like to have this communication by Friday October 14,
if possible. He suggested that internal GOS decision
meetings regarding the sale would take place shortly after
that date. ESTHOFF told Rodriguez-Pantoja that he was
optimistic that the Embassy would be able to pass USG views
on the sale prior to October 14.
8. (U) ACTION REQUEST - please pass USG views on this
possible sale to Embassy Madrid ESTHOFF Ken Forder prior to
MFA's October 14 deadline.