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Cablegate: Arms Sales to Venezuela

VZCZCXRO7540
OO RUEHFL RUEHNP
DE RUEHRO #1996 1940920
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 130920Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5340
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0742
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 1704
RUEHFL/AMCONSUL FLORENCE PRIORITY 1568
RUEHMIL/AMCONSUL MILAN PRIORITY 7353
RUEHNP/AMCONSUL NAPLES PRIORITY 1642
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ROME 001996

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PLEASE PASS TO ISN/CATR, EUR/PRA, AND EUR/WE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ETTC PARM SP VE IT
SUBJECT: ARMS SALES TO VENEZUELA

REF: A. STATE 112031

B. STATE 110041
C. ROME 01915

Sensitive but unclassified. Not for internet distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary. A/ECMIN met July 7 with Simone Bemporad,
Finmeccanica's Senior Vice President for Media Relations and
International Affairs, and Camillo Pirozzi, Head of Public
Affairs and Institutional Relations, to discuss
Finmeccanica's proposed sale of naval guns to the Venezuelan
navy. A/ECMIN orally delivered Ref A talking points, which
Pirozzi and Bemporad said they would take back to
Finmeccanica. While they were receptive to our points,
Bemporad and Pirozzi stopped short of saying Finmeccanica
would not pursue this sale. Post will report delivery of Ref
B talking points regarding Finmeccanica's contract in Iran
septel. End Summary.

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2. (SBU) A/ECMIN began by thanking Finmeccanica for
consulting the USG on the proposed sale. Drawing on Ref A
points, she said that President Chavez was becoming
increasingly authoritarian and was acquiring weapons in
excess of Venezuela's legitimate self-defense needs. She
further noted the USG had demarched the Government of Spain
(GOS) and Navantia (the Spanish company building the patrol
boats on which the guns will be installed) on supplying arms
to Venezuela. She said we had not told the GOS clearly that
we would not allow U.S. exports in support of the
construction of these patrol boats.

3. (SBU) A/ECMIN also noted the USG had designated Venezuela
as not fully cooperating with U.S. anti-terrorism efforts
and, for this reason, will not permit the export or
retransfer of defense articles or defense services to
Venezuela effective October 1, 2006. Bemporad took A/ECMIN's
points on board, stating "Now we have an answer," and said
that he would relay these points to senior Finmeccanica
management.

4. (SBU) Comment. Although Finmeccanica sought USG views on
the proposed sale, we note that neither Bemporad nor Pirozzi
explicitly said Finmeccanica would not go forward with the
sale. As reported Ref C, it is Finmeccanica policy to seek
USG approval before entering into contracts with states of
concern or in cases where the USG might object for foreign
policy reasons. We asked Finmeccanica to inform us of the
final decision on the proposed sale, and we will follow up
with Finmeccanica. End comment.
SPOGLI

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