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Cablegate: Argentine Response to U.S. Request for Greater

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1178/01 2341829
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 211829Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1852

C O N F I D E N T I A L BUENOS AIRES 001178

SIPDIS

ISN FOR D. MAHLEY AND P. DURHAM
WHA FOR BSC J. SHOWELL AND M. DRUCKER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/21/2018
TAGS: KSCA PARM PREL ETTC AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINE RESPONSE TO U.S. REQUEST FOR GREATER
TRANSPARENCY IN SPACE LAUNCH VEHICLE PROGRAM

REF: SECSTATE 50050 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires a.i. Thomas P. Kelly,
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

--------------------------------
Making the Case for Transparency
--------------------------------

1. (C) On June 30, ESTOff met with the Executive Director of
the National Commission on Aerospace Activities (CONAE), Dr.
Conrado Varotto and CONAE Secretary General Felix Menicocci,
to deliver Ref set of conditions regarding the Argentine
space launch vehicle (SLV) program. Varotto took careful
notes, requesting clarification when necessary. At one
point, Varotto paraphrased ESTOff by stating the USG would
not ""intervene"" in their SLV program. ESTOff corrected
Varotto, reading directly from a prepared statement that the
USG would not ""block"" the GOA's SLV program. Varotto
accepted the clarification and informed ESTOff that he would
review the conditions with the relevant GOA authorities. Per
Ref instructions, ESTOff emphasized that it was not the USG's
intention to burden Argentina with a cumbersome set of
restrictions, but rather to craft an agile transparency
mechanism that would allow Argentina to continue to serve as
an exemplar of a nonproliferation state.

-------------------------------
A Commitment to Full Compliance
-------------------------------

2. (C) On July 31, ESTOff again met with Varotto and
Menicocci in their CONAE offices. Varotto informed ESTOff
that the GOA agreed to all ref terms and conditions. Varotto
stated that, as the Director of CONAE, his statement of
approval was authoritative and binding, and that further
approvals from other GOA entities were not necessary.
Varotto requested that the USG consider CONAE as the official
interlocutor for all matters regarding the SLV program, and
requested that the USG channel all communication through
CONAE. Varotto stated that other GOA entities would be
involved in the bilateral dialogue, but CONAE was the mission
manager for the SLV program, and would serve as the focal
point for the GOA.

3. (C) Varotto further requested that the first step in the
transparency program, a one-time ""state of play"" presentation
on the SLV program, occur after January 1, 2009, because
CONAE was engaged in several time-sensitive and complex
projects until that time. Varotto emphasized that this was a
request, not a demand, and asked ESTOff to convey it to the
appropriate authorities. Throughout the conversation,
Varotto emphasized the collaborative nature of the
US-Argentine bilateral aerospace relationship, and the shared
interest in transparency. He stated that CONAE was ready to
work with the USG to address any concerns over the SLV
program, which he classified as wholly civilian in nature.

4. (C) On August 21, ESTCouns met at the MFA with Ricardo
Bocalandro, Deputy Director for Nuclear and Special Issues.
Bocalandro confirmed that CONAE's Executive Director Varotto
has full authority to negotiate technical issues on behalf of
the GOA, and that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who sits
on CONAE's Board of Directors, is informed and supportive of
Varotto's committments on SLV transparency. Bocalandro also
confirmed that Varotto is to be our interlocutor on all
matters regarding the SLV program.

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

5. (C) We request further details on the timing and content
of the ""state of play"" briefing Varotto has committed CONAE
to provide in Washington, as well as initial thoughts about
the timing of subsequent expert-level meetings in Washington
and Buenos Aires. Having agreed to full compliance, Varotto
and Menicocci are now interested in further discussions to
iron out the details of the agreement.

-------
Comment
-------

6. (C) Having made an unequivocal statement of compliance
with our terms and conditions, it is likely Varotto will
leverage any resulting goodwill to push the limits of
existing control regimes and agreements to further
Argentina's SLV and other aerospace programs. With Argentina
a signatory to the Missile Technology Control Regime and

other bilateral and multilateral nonproliferation agreements,
Varotto sees his future negotiating position as one of
strength, and he is likely to play heavily on Argentina's
demonstrated history of transparency and compliance to gain
U.S. approval for Argentina's resurgent aerospace program.
End comment.
KELLY

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