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Cablegate: Istc Governing Board Meeting in Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #5773/01 3450422
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110422Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5780
INFO RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA 0141
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 2566
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 0002
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV 0203
RUEHSK/AMEMBASSY MINSK 5449
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 1718
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 2084
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2713
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI 3856
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 4167
RUEHYE/AMEMBASSY YEREVAN 0496
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ALMATY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS MOSCOW 005773

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR ISN/CTR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KNNP PARM TSPL RS
SUBJECT: ISTC Governing Board Meeting in Moscow

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: At the International Science and Technology Center
(ISTC) Coordinating Committee (CC) and Governing Board (GB) meetings
held December 3-5, the Russians lamented what, in their view, is a
lack of genuine partnership at the ISTC and the neglect of Russia's
rights and privileges under the agreement establishing ISTC. The
United States supported the need for the Russians to have full
transparency into the workings of the ISTC, and joined the consensus
that Russian privileges should be respected and these issues
resolved. The parties also approved the EU nominee to the Executive
Director (ED) position, once Russia has concluded its internal
approval by no later than January 1, 2008. The United States
informed other parties of our selection for Chief Financial Officer,
but the Russians privately registered their opposition to the U.S.
nominee. The parties agreed to hold a U.S.-hosted working group in
February to try to make progress on the issue of Russia's concerns
that Georgia is unfairly benefiting from dual membership in both the
ISTC and the Science Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU). In a move
forward in the ISTC's transformation, the parties agreed to launch a
new pilot program to make science and technology institutes
financially self-sustaining. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Executive Director Nomination: The Russian delegation
expressed deep concern over the letter sent to the parties from the
ISTC Governing Board Chairman, which had extended ED Norbert
Jousten's term to December 31, 2007. In Russia's view, the ED
should not have been extended without Russia's explicit approval,
whereas the Chairman had acted in the absence of a Russian
objection. The Russians indicated they are favorably disposed
towards the EU's nomination of ED candidate Adriaan van der Meer and
will send formal approval by January 1, 2008.

3. (SBU) Georgia's Dual Membership: The GB agreed to establish a
small working group of the funding parties, Russia, and Georgia in
February 2008 before the next Governing Board meeting to discuss
further the issue of Russia's concerns with Georgia's membership in
both the ISTC and the STCU.

4. (SBU) Host Government Concurrence (HGC): The funding parties
raised the issue of Russia not providing HGC on new project
proposals since August 2007. Russia said it would not be able to
provide HGC until an ISTC interagency coordination council was
created, which required a signed order from President Putin. The
Governing board agreed that host states needed to accelerate their
process of concurring with projects.

5. (SBU) Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Position: Russia pushed back
on the U.S. nomination for the CFO position. The Russians expressed
frustration at not having transparency into the finances at the ISTC
and the repeated refusal of the incumbent to support Russian
proposals for an audit of the ISTC by a Russian auditor. The United
States indicated its support for the Russians to regain full
transparency into all the ISTC's finances in its role as the host
state, as specified in the ISTC's founding documents. The Russians
asked that the United States consider its concerns as it filled this
vacancy.

6. (SBU) Sustainability Pilot Program: The GB approved a list of
nine institutes for the first round of the ISTC's new effort to work
with institutes in creating self-sustainability plans. The parties
also provided substantial new funding for this effort and agreed to
hire staff, begin new accounting procedures, and eventually make
organizational changes.

7. (SBU) Institute Access: The ISTC held a useful Access Working
Group meeting to address the concerns raised by several sensitive
Russian institutes experiencing a large volume of visits from ISTC
staff, funding parties and international collaborators. The meeting
fostered a productive discussion of how to provide access to these
facilities consistent with Russian laws. Russia said that until an
order on the ISTC was signed by President Putin, it could not
provide further information about the specific number of days of
advance notice that would be required for site access requests to
sensitive Russian institutes. The United States expressed
willingness to revisit the rules on site access requests in order to
address Russian concerns.

8. (SBU) Programmatic Approach: The GB approved five basic areas for
scientific research projects, but agreed to change the process in
the future from one driven by the ISTC's scientific advisors to one
determined by the parties, taking special account of the science and
technology needs of the host states.

9. (SBU) International Audit Tender: After the EU and Russia
expressed concerns over the criteria behind the choice for the
ISTC's international auditor, the GB decided to re-tender the
contract and add new selection criteria placing more weight on
companies who do not currently hold the contract.

10. (SBU) U.S. Budget Contributions: The U.S. Department of State
committed over three million dollars for the ISTC Administrative
Operative Budget ($400,000 of this amount was contributed by the
Department of Energy) and $2,360,000 for the Supplemental Budget.

11. (SBU) Project Funding: The U.S. Department of State committed
$204,000 in regular project funding ($114,000 to Regular Project
#3799 and $90,000 to Regular Project #3515).
12. (SBU) Next GB Meeting: The next GB meeting will be held in
Dushanbe, Tajikistan on April 10, 2008.
BURNS

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