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Cablegate: U/S Burns' August 17 Meeting with Israeli Mossad

DE RUEHTV #2652/01 2431245
P 311245Z AUG 07

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 TEL AVIV 002652



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/2017

Classified By: Ambassador Richard H. Jones. Reasons: 1.4 (b)(d).


1. (S) In an August 17 meeting, Israeli Mossad Chief Meir
Dagan thanked Under Secretary Burns for America's support of
Israel as evidenced by the previous day's signing of an MOU
that provides Israel with USD 30 billion in security
assistance from 2008-2018. Dagan provided his assessment of
the Middle East region, Pakistan and Turkey, stressing
Israel's (a) concern for President Musharraf's well-being,
(b) view that Iran can be forced to change its behavior, and
(c) sense that Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are
unstable with unclear futures ahead of them. Dagan probed
for more detail about XXXXXXXXXXXX U.S. military assistance
to the Gulf states, and -- while signaling agreement with the
U.S. approach to the Gulf states vis-a-vis Iran -- cautioned that
they may not be able to absorb significant military assistance.
Dagan reviewed Israel's five-pillar strategy concerning
Iran's nuclear program, stressed that Iran is economicall
vulnerable, and pressed for more activity with Iran's
minority groups aimed at regime change. Dagan urged
caution in providing assistance to the Siniora government in
Lebanon, noting Syrian and Iranian efforts to topple the GOL.

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2. (S) Under Secretary Burns cited the MOU as tangible
evidence of the USG's commitment to Israel, and stressed that
the U.S. would support all of its friends -- Arabs included
-- in the Middle East, and will remain engaged in the region
for the long term. He described U.S. efforts to support the
Musharraf and Karzai governments as they face opposition from
Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and explained that the Gulf
Security Dialogue is meant to bolster Gulf states facing
threats from Iran. The Under Secretary reviewed U.S. efforts
to isolate Iran and increase pressure on it, stressing that
the U.S. is currently focused on the diplomatic track. He
shared USG thinking about the Siniora government in Lebanon,
and urged that the U.S. and Israel continue to consult on


3. (S) Dagan observed that the signing of the MOU on
security assistance could not have come at a better time, and
stressed that Israel appreciated America's support. The
Under Secretary agreed about the timing, noting that the
U.S., Israel and like-minded countries were facing multiple
threats around the world, and that the Middle East is a very
dangerous region. He said that the MOU serves as a concrete
reminder that the U.S. stands by its long-term security
commitments to its friends, and is ready to help them with
their needs. The Under Secretary noted that the Middle East
is now at the heart of American interests. Because Egypt
also plays a vital role in the region, the U.S. would also
renew its security assistance commitment to that country.
U.S. relations with the Gulf states were longstanding, and
America would stay true to those friendships, as well. The
Under Secretary stressed that the USG is committed to
Israel's QME. He noted that the majority of systems and
equipment that the U.S. would sell to Egypt and other Arab
partners would replace items that had been sold to those
countries in the past.


4. (S) Assessing the region, Dagan said Israel sees itself in
the middle of a rapidly changing environment, in which the
fate of one Middle Eastern country is connected to another.
Dagan then said he was concerned about how long Pakistani
President Musharraf would survive: "He is facing a serious
problem with the militants. Pakistan's nuclear capability
could end up in the hands of an Islamic regime." Turning to
Iran, Dagan observed that it is in a transition period.
There is debate among the leadership between Rafsanjani and
Ahmadinejad and their respective supporters. Instability in
Iran is driven by inflation and tension among ethnic
minorities. This, Dagan said, presents unique opportunities,
and Israelis and Americans might see a change in Iran in

TEL AVIV 00002652 002 OF 005

their lifetimes. As for Iraq, it may end up a weak, federal
state comprised of three cantons or entities, one each
belonging to the Kurds, Sunnis and Shias.

5. (S) Dagan said that the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia are
concerned about the growing importance of Iran and its
influence on them. They are taking precautions, trying to
increase their own military defensive capabilities.
Referring to the Gulf Security Dialogue (GSD), Dagan warned
that these countries would not be able to cope with the
amount of weapons systems they intend to acquire: "They do
not use the weapons effectively."

6. (S) Dagan said that Jordan has successfully faced down
threats from the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and that Egypt
is struggling with the question of who will replace President
Mubarak. He said he sees no hope for the Palestinians, and
that Israel looks at Syria and Lebanon, and sees only
instability. Further afield, it looks at Turkey and sees
Islamists gaining momentum there. The question, he asked, is
how long Turkey's military -- viewing itself as the defender
of Turkey's secular identity -- will remain quiet.

7. (S) If Israel's neighborhood were not unstable enough,
Dagan observed, it did not help that Russia is playing a
"very negative role" in the region. He observed that all of
these challenges have to be addressed globally -- they could
not be dealt with individually. Returning to Jordan as an
example, he noted that the more than one million Iraqi
refugees in Jordan were changing Jordanian society, and
forcing it into a new relationship with Saudi Arabia. This
is evidenced by Saudi King Abdullah's recent visit to Jordan,
which implies greater understanding between the Jordanians
and the Saudis.


8. (S) Turning to the Gulf Security Dialogue (GSD), Dagan
said that enhancing the capabilities of the Gulf states "is
the right direction to go," especially as they are afraid of
Iran. Such a U.S. commitment will be a stabilizing factor in
the region. Dagan clarified that he would not oppose U.S.
security assistance to America's Arab partners. He expressed
concern, nevertheless, about the current policies of those
partners -- especially with regards to Syria and Iran. Dagan
added that if those countries must choose between buying
defensive systems from the U.S. or France, then he would
prefer they buy systems from the U.S., as this would bring
them closer to the U.S.

9. (S) Dagan observed that the challenge facing the U.S. now
is how to unite the Gulf states under a shared policy, and
pointed to Qatar as the weakest link in the chain, trying to
play all sides. Under Secretary Burns replied that the U.S.
is trying to get Qatar and its neighbors to look at issues
from a regional perspective, and to focus on threats in a
unified way. Acting PM Assistant Secretary Mull expressed
understanding for Israel's frustration with how the region
looked, but stressed nevertheless that if America did not
engage the Gulf states through the GSD, the situation would
become much worse. It is critical to get the Gulf states
focused on the Iran threat, and to adopt a regional approach
to countering it. Encouraging and supporting their
counterproliferation efforts would be crucial. Dagan said he
agreed with this approach, stressing that the threat of
radical Islam is real.

--------------------------------------------- ----
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10. (S) Dagan led discussion on Iran by pointing out that the
U.S. and Israel have different timetables concerning when
Iran is likely to acquire a nuclear capability. He clarified
that the Israel Atomic Energy Commission's (IAEC) timetable
is purely technical in nature, while the Mossad's considers
other factors, including the regime's determination to
succeed. While Dagan acknowledged that there is still time
to "resolve" the Iran nuclear crisis, he stressed that Iran
is making a great effort to achieve a nuclear capability:
"The threat is obvious, even if we have a different
timetable. If we want to postpone their acquisition of a

TEL AVIV 00002652 003 OF 005

nuclear capability, then we have to invest time and effort

11. (S) Dagan described how the Israeli strategy consists of
five pillars:

A) Political Approach: Dagan praised efforts to bring Iran
before the UNSC, and signaled his agreement with the pursuit
of a third sanctions resolution. He acknowledged that
pressure on Iran is building up, but said this approach alone
will not resolve the crisis. He stressed that the timetable
for political action is different than the nuclear project's

B) Covert Measures: Dagan and the Under Secretary agreed not
to discuss this approach in the larger group setting.

C) Counterproliferation: Dagan underscored the need to
prevent know-how and technology from making their way to
Iran, and said that more can be done in this area.

D) Sanctions: Dagan said that the biggest successes had so
far been in this area. Three Iranian banks are on the verge
of collapse. The financial sanctions are having a nationwide
impact. Iran's regime can no longer just deal with the
bankers themselves.

E) Force Regime Change: Dagan said that more should be done
to foment regime change in Iran, possibly with the support of
student democracy movements, and ethnic groups (e.g., Azeris,
Kurds, Baluchs) opposed to the ruling regime.

12. (S) Dagan clarified that the U.S., Israel and like-minded
countries must push on all five pillars at the same time.
Some are bearing fruit now; others would bear fruit in due
time, especially if more attention were placed on them.
Dagan urged more attention on regime change, asserting that
more could be done to develop the identities of ethnic
minorities in Iran. He said he was sure that Israel and the
U.S. could "change the ruling regime in Iran, and its
attitude towards backing terror regimes." He added, "We
could also get them to delay their nuclear project. Iran
could become a normal state."

13. (S) Dagan stressed that Iran has weak spots that can be
exploited. According to his information, unemployment
exceeds 30 percent nationwide, with some towns and villages
experiencing 50 percent unemployment, especially among 17-30
year olds. Inflation averages more than 40 percent, and
people are criticizing the government for investing in and
sponsoring Hamas, saying that they government should invest
in Iran itself. "The economy is hurting," he said, "and this
is provoking a real crisis among Iran's leaders." He added
that Iran's minorities are "raising their heads, and are
tempted to resort to violence."

14. (S) Dagan suggested that more could be done to get the
Europeans to take a tougher stand against Iran. Under
Secretary Burns agreed, and suggested that Israel could help

by reaching out to the Europeans. Dagan said that Israel is
already doing this, and would continue to do so. Dagan
reiterated the need to strike at Iran's heart by engaging
with its people directly. Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts
are important, but more radio transmissions in Farsi are
needed. Coordination with the Gulf states is helpful, but
the U.S. should also coordinate with Azerbaijan and countries
to the north of Iran, to put pressure on Iran. Russia, he
said, would be annoyed, but it would be fitting, as Russia
appears bent on showing the U.S. that it cannot act globally
without considering Russia.

15. (S) Under Secretary Burns stressed that the USG is
focused on Iran not only because of its nuclear program, but
also because it supports terrorism and Shiite militias in
Iraq. The U.S. approach is currently focused on the
diplomatic track and increasing pressure on Iran through
sanctions. Work in the UNSC helps to define the Iranian
nuclear threat as one that affects international security,
and not just that of Israel. While UNSC members Russia,
China and Qatar will water down efforts to increase pressure
on Iran, it is still worthwhile to push for a third sanctions
resolution. In the meantime, the U.S. will encourage the
Europeans, Japan and South Korea to implement unilateral
sanctions against Iran outside the UNSC framework. The U.S.

TEL AVIV 00002652 004 OF 005

will continue to encourage banks and financial institutions
to slow down their operations in Iran and financially isolate
it. Regarding military pressure, the Under Secretary noted
that the U.S. has deployed 1-2 carrier battle groups in the
Gulf over the last six months, and that President Bush has
stated that he will interrupt Iran's activity in Iraq. As
for outreach to the Iranian people, the VOA is now
broadcasting programs in Farsi, and the USG is trying to get
more Iranian students to visit the U.S. to promote
people-to-people relations.


16. (S) On Pakistan, Dagan said that President Musharraf is
losing control, and that some of his coalition partners could
threaten him in the future. The key question, Dagan said, is
whether Musharraf retains his commander-in-chief role in
addition to his role as president. If not, he will have
problems. Dagan observed that there has been an increase in
the number of attempts on Musharraf's life, and wondered
whether he will survive the next few years. Under Secretary
Burns replied that South Asia has assumed vital importance in
American foreign policy since September 11. The U.S. is
committed to denying Afghanistan as a safe-haven for Taliban
and Al-Qaeda activity. The USG will continue to support
Pakistani President Musharraf, and is seeking to boost his
military defensive capabilities. At the same time, the U.S.
is encouraging Pakistan and Afghanistan to work with each
other militarily. Turning to India, Under Secretary Burns
noted that U.S.-Indian economic cooperation is growing, and
that the USG is working effectively to reduce tensions
between India and Pakistan.


17. (S) Dagan urged caution with respect to Lebanon, noting
that the results of efforts there to bolster the Siniora
government would impact Syria and Iraq. The U.S. and Israel,
he said, are on the edge of achieving something in Lebanon,
and so cannot afford to drop their guard. What is necessary
is finding the right way to support PM Siniora. "He is a
courageous man," Dagan said. Syria, Iran and Hizballah are
working hard against him. Dagan noted that much of what is
animating the leadership of Lebanon to take on Syria is
personal: "Hariri, Jumblat and others had their parents
executed by the Syrians." This anti-Syrian sentiment has
forged an alliance based on personal and national interests.
Siniora has worked well with the situation, but Dagan
suggested that the odds are against him. Under Secretary
Burns replied that the U.S. is trying to give PM Siniora as
much support as possible, and that we would continue to
consult closely with Israel on Lebanon. He noted that he
would return to Israel in October.


18, (SBU) Accompanying Under Secretary Burns in the meeting
-- Ambassador Richard H. Jones
-- Acting PM Assistant Secretary Stephen Mull
-- Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International
Security Affairs Mary Beth Long
-- NEA/IPA Deputy Director Nicole Shampaine
-- Embassy Tel Aviv Counselor for Political Research
-- Embassy Tel Aviv Political-Military Officer (notetaker)

19. (SBU) Accompanying Mossad Chief Meir Dagan in the meeting
-- Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Salai Meridor
-- Advisor to Foreign Minister Livni Omer Caspi
-- Two unidentified Mossad officials

20. (U) Under Secretary R. Nicholas Burns cleared on this

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