Cablegate: Embassy Oslo


DE RUEHNY #0729/01 1910933
O 100933Z JUL 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L OSLO 000729
E.O. 12958: DECL: 7/9/17 TAGS: MARR PREL NO
Classified By: DCM Kevin M. Johnson for reasons 1.5 b and d

1. (C) Summary. A series of pending military sales issues may bring in to question the US´ reputation as a reliable supplier and, in the current Norwegian political climate, may become a significant media focus. In turn, this may affect Norway´s hoped for $2.2 billion purchase of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) as well as our longer term defense cooperation. Resolving these pending sales issues is key to avoiding irritants to US-Norwegian relations, and reduced prospects for the JSF sale. End Summary.

The Political Climate in Norway and the Expected JSF Sale --------------------------------------------- ------------

2. (C) Norway´s coalition government faces some of its biggest difficulties over defense issues. With the left-wing SV Party opposed to most military actions and purchase of equipment, the other two coalition partners must constantly compromise to enable the government to send troops to Afghanistan or to purchase new weapons or planes. SV has regularly questioned the $2.2 billion purchase of JSF planes and promoted the continued competition of the Gripen and Eurofighter. The largest opposition party, Progress Party also appears to prefer the Gripen out of Scandinavian solidarity. Nonetheless, the Ministry of Defense has pressed the benefits of the JSF and it remains the leading contender.

3. (C) Very recently, the USG agreed to provide 4 C-130Js to Norway at their request (deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2008). Even this was highly controversial in Norway with several parties saying the purchase was unduly rushed and ill considered.

4. (C) Media interest in the debates surrounding these defense purchases has been extremely high. In the media and in private, we have often made the point that the US is a reliable supplier of the best weapons systems on offer. This point has been picked up in Parliamentary debates and elsewhere by our supporters who largely tend to also be the strongest supporters of Norway´s participation in NATO and in Afghanistan.

The Problem -----------

5. (C) Two unrelated military purchases could cause significant harm to our efforts. Norway previously signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance for a $65 million Javelin anti-tank missile purchase, originally scheduled for delivery in August 2006. Delivery has since been delayed and now Norway is unwilling to accept the Javelins due to potential manufacturing corrosion in the missile guidance section. The Javelin Joint Venture has recommended, and the US Army is preparing to accept, a waiver to complete the delivery of the original missiles with potential corrosion in the guidance sections, in exchange for an extended manufacturer´s warranty that the missiles will function properly or be replaced. US Army acceptance of the waiver will require foreign customers to accept the suspect missiles, under the terms of the respective Foreign Military Sales cases, and this affects 270 of Norway´s 450 missiles. Norway has strenuously objected to this situation, most recently in a letter from the Acting Director of the Norwegian Defense Logistics Organization to the Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Norway insists upon replacement of the potentially corroded components, at no cost to Norway, before they will accept the missiles. Norway has explained that the warranty offered is predicated on conclusive proof that any failure of the missile is directly attributable to the identified corrosion problem. Norway points out that this would require a mis-fired missile to be transported to the US for inspection and analysis, and this is impossible due to the safety prohibitions on transporting a mis-fired missile. Further, Javelin was selected by a narrow margin over several competitors and had Norway been aware of the problems they would encounter in this purchase, they most likely would have chosen a different system.

6. (C) The other purchase encountering difficulties is Norway´s $1.2 billion purchase of Nansen-class frigates from Spain, which is being delayed by an inability to reconcile US and Spanish technical legal requirements regarding signature of end-user nontransfer documents. Spanish shipbuilder Navantia and Lockheed Martin are building the frigates, based on Spain´s advanced F-100 design and incorporating US AEGIS weapons system technology. An existing Technical Assistance Agreement between Navantia and Lockheed Martin must be amended because of a corporate name change. A Spanish official had erroneously signed an earlier version of that document, but MOD says that person had no authority to sign on behalf of the GOS. Furthermore, MOD says that it is unable to sign USG form DSP-83 because a 2004 Spanish law limits the Spanish National Armaments Director from signing any form other than Spain´s own end-use certificate. See reftels.

What do they all have in Common? --------------------------------

7. (C) The purchase of the Javelins, Nansen-class frigates, and fighter airplanes are separate matters. However, all of these programs have two things in common: they involve US systems and they are all produced by Lockheed-Martin. Those correlations have not gone unnoticed here, where there is an active and vocal anti-American lobby. If they successfully string together Norway´s dissatisfaction with Javelin, along with delayed deliveries of frigates due to what may be perceived as US intransigence on technology transfer, the prospects for JSF could certainly be jeopardized. Beyond that, our allies who have been supportive of sending Norwegian troops to Afghanistan and purchasing US weapon systems will be undermined with potentially significant consequences.

Action Request --------------

8. (C) Post requests that Washington agencies considering the Javelin and the frigate issues seek a resolution that takes into account these broad strategic issues.

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