Cablegate: Special Envoy Wolcott's Nuclear Energy Supply


DE RUEHLO #1972/01 2121241
R 301241Z JUL 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 001972


E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/28/2018

Classified By: Political Counselor

Political Counselor Richard Mills reasons, 1.4 b and d

1. (C) Summary. On July 22, Ambassador Jackie Wolcott, Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Special Assistant Marc Humphrey traveled to London to meet with Simon Manley (Director for Defense and Strategic Threats at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, FCO). The purpose of this meeting was to follow up on a May 16 P-3 discussion in London relating to rapidly expanding nuclear energy around the world. George Sherriff (FCO Desk Officer for Nuclear Issues) and U.S. Embassy PolOff were also in attendance.

2. (C) Wolcott reported on a July 20 meeting with Martin Briens (of the French MFA), at which they discussed the status of a French draft "charter" for nuclear energy suppliers to address the responsible development of nuclear energy (reported septel). Briens had recommended seeking a broad consensus of suppliers and potential recipient states and operating within the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review process. Wolcott expressed her concerns with this approach to Manley, who agreed that working within the NPT context would be counterproductive. He stressed the importance of a business and commerce approach to steer clear of debates about NPT rights. Sherriff reported that a UK paper on "gaps" in the nuclear supplier regime, as volunteered by the British during the May P-3 meeting, had not yet been developed. End Summary.

Nuclear Supplier Code of Conduct --------------------------------

3. (C) Manley opened the meeting by explaining that Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for a conference in late 2008 to bring together suppliers and those looking to acquire nuclear energy technology. At the May 16 P-3 meeting, representatives discussed what sort of deliverable could be derived from this conference. The French had suggested a non-legally binding "charter" on nuclear supply to govern the relationship between supplier and recipient states. For its part, Sherriff explained that the UK was exploring "gaps" in the nuclear supply regime, though it had not yet produced a paper on the topic.

4. (C) Wolcott recounted her July 20 discussions with Martin Briens (French MFA DAS-equivalent for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation), during which she had delivered U.S. views on what elements such a "code of conduct" or "charter" should include. These included supplier commitments (which should extend beyond NSG guidelines), recipient obligations (such as adoption of safety conventions or nonproliferation norms), and possible "sanctions" provisions (for recipient states that do not meet their nonproliferation obligations). Briens had stated that the main elements of the French paper would be promotion of nuclear power and a willingness to help countries build infrastructure, balanced with a need for strict standards of supply. He had suggested that the paper should include the consensus views of nuclear suppliers and recipients, and should be developed within the context of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review process.

5. (C) Wolcott noted her skepticism about this approach since broad consensus would necessarily lower supply standards and the connection to the NPT would lead to politicization of the issue. Manley agreed that this effort should be pursued outside of the NPT context in order to keep it "de-politicized." He also suggested putting a business or commercial stamp on it, with governing principles derived from market mechanisms. If we were to begin with a nonproliferation platform, he cautioned, it would quickly degenerate into a debate about "haves" versus "have-nots." He strongly advised keeping the issue "out of the hands of the NPT mafia" and in the hands of industry officials.

Nuclear Cooperation with Aspiring States ----------------------------------------

6. (C) More generally, Manley stated that the UK was interested in the opportunities accompanying the expansion of nuclear energy, but also worried about the associated challenges. Currently, the UK is discussing nuclear energy cooperation with two potential aspirants, the UAE and Jordan. He conceded that these two were relatively "easy" cases, in comparison to Egypt or Saudi Arabia who would show much greater concern about their "NPT rights." Wolcott noted the United States is also talking to the UAE and Jordan, and has recently signed nuclear cooperation Memoranda of Understanding with each. Commenting that these MOUs included language affirming the recipient states' intent to favor the international fuel market over indigenous enrichment and reprocessing technologies, Wolcott expressed concern that similar language was not included in the UK's nuclear cooperation MOUs.

7. (C) Wolcott explained that the United States was trying, through constructive cooperation and assistance measures, to create a viable alternative to the acquisition of indigenous enrichment and reprocessing technologies. This approach received a generally positive reception in Egypt, Wolcott added, where the Government of Egypt responded favorably to a proposed enhancement of cooperation on nuclear energy development and did not focus on political subjects such as NPT rights, Israel, or a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. Manley responded that Egypt remains a key concern to the UK, which worries how Egypt,s "aspirations may shift" in the future and about the "damage (Egypt) can do" within the NPT review process. He was therefore interested to hear about the U.S. pitch to Egypt and the traction it may have gained. Wolcott advised the UK to channel any potential cooperation through the energy and electricity authorities in Cairo, rather than getting caught up in internal battles between these and the Egyptian MFA.

8. (C) Wolcott commented that she had also met with officials from the French International Nuclear Agency (ANFI), a new public agency within the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), established to consolidate expertise from numerous French agencies to provide assistance to aspiring nuclear energy states over a broad range of competencies. Noting that the French commercial industry is state owned, she had stressed that nonproliferation considerations should take precedence over commercial interests. She inquired about the UK forming a similar interagency body to focus on nuclear energy in aspiring states, as Minister Hutton had mentioned at a recent Washington roundtable with U.S. nuclear industry representatives. Sherriff noted that this was in the early stages of development, but that he couldn't give any timescale or detail yet. Wolcott closed by mentioning the importance of additional signatories to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage in order to bring it into effect. 9. (U) Ambassador Wolcott cleared this cable. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXXTUTTLE

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