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Cablegate: Argentina Shares Concerns Over Proposed Nsg Restrictions Of


DE RUEHBU #1552/01 3181407
P 131407Z NOV 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: Buenos Aires 1449

1. (SBU) Summary: Vice Foreign Minister Victorio Taccetti told
visiting DOE NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino November 7 that
the GOA was ready to work for an agreement under paragraph 6 of the
draft criteria-based guidelines for the transfer of enrichment and
reprocessing technology (ENR), but that the GOA was troubled by
paragraph 7. The GOA could not accept restrictions on its right to
receive and develop new ENR knowledge and technologies.
Nonetheless, Taccetti's advisor Rafael Grossi suggested consensus on
language would be possible. MFA Nuclear Affairs (DIGAN) Director
Elsa Kelly, also constructive and cordial with Administrator
D'Agostino, voiced sharper concern about paragraph 7, saying that it
was "not fair, nor rational." She suggested that the USG share with
the GOA any progress made in talks with Canada, which has also
expressed concern about paragraph 7. Administrator D'Agostino
emphasized in these meetings and separate meetings with nuclear
regulators and managers that the USG appreciated the responsible and
constructive role played by Argentina in the management of nuclear
technology and materials. He also pledged to provide the GOA with
revised text on paragraph 6 (Embassy provided to the MFA on November
12). National Commission for Atomic Energy (CNEA) President Norma
Boero emphasized that Argentina needed to sustain a small-scale
reprocessing program to preserve its knowledge and capabilities for
future spent fuel disposition. Asked about the Megaports Initiative
by D'Agostino, Taccetti reiterated past GOA concerns about the
confidentiality of any information collected; he also noted that the
continuing disagreement between relevant national agencies over
control of port security had prevented GOA forward movement. End

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2. (U) Thomas D'Agostino, Administrator for the Department of
Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), visited
Argentina November 6-7 for consultations related to a proposal for
criteria-based restrictions on the transfers of enrichment and
reprocessing (ENR) technologies at the November 19 Nuclear Suppliers
Group (NSG) meeting. D'Agostino was accompanied by Adam Scheinman,
NNSA Assistant Deputy Administrator for Nonproliferation and
International Security and by Captain (USN) Peter Hanlon, NNSA
Executive Staff Director and Military Advisor. Mr. D'Agostino was
received by Vice Foreign Minister Victorio Taccetti and separately
by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director for International Security,
Nuclear and Space Affairs (DIGAN) Elsa Kelly on November 7.
Officials from the National Commission on Atomic Energy (CNEA) and
the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ARN) participated in the meeting
with Kelly, and CNEA President Normal Boero received D'Agostino at
her headquarters. Charge d'Affaires accompanied D'Agostino to the
meeting with Taccetti, and Embassy ESTH Counselor and
Political-Military Officer (notetaker) attended all meetings.

Reserving a Right to Enrichment and Reprocessing
--------------------------------------------- ---

3. (SBU) Administrator D'Agostino thanked Taccetti for Argentina's
solid record of cooperation on non-proliferation issues, most
recently its collaboration in shifting from highly enriched uranium
(HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU). D'Agostino said that his visit
was motivated by a commitment to consult and to seek Argentina's
support on criteria for the transfer of nuclear technology and
materials through the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The USG, he
said, did not want Argentina and Brazil's position on the
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Additional Protocol (AP) to prevent
agreement in the NSG on criteria for control of enrichment and
reprocessing (ENR) technology. Assistant Deputy Administrator
Scheinman then briefed on efforts to reach consensus within the NSG,
noting Brazil's concerns about the AP as a criteria and Canada's
concerns under paragraph 7. He described the effort to fortify what
was already standard commercial practice, that of a "black box"
through which purchasers of technology would benefit from the use
but not gain insights into the workings of the technology.

4. (SBU) Taccetti expressed concern about the final point, saying
that "Argentina is a compliant country. We don't want to be
receivers of a technology we don't manage." In the subsequent
meeting, Ambassador Kelly was even more direct, saying that "we are
not going to curtail our development of technology. It is not fair,
nor rational." She argued that enrichment and reprocessing
technologies were clearly dual-use, and that they were "not
necessarily proliferating." At the CNEA, President Boero elaborated
further on the rationale relating to reprocessing, arguing that
Argentina hoped to have five nuclear power plants in operation by
2025, creating increasing burdens for the storage of
plutonium-bearing spent fuel. Given that there might be real future
risks to shipping plutonium long distances, it would be better to
have a country like Argentina with the capacity to reprocess its own
and neighboring countries' fuel. This was a technology that Brazil
was not interested in pursuing, so Argentina, which "was not new to
reprocessing technology," would fill that role. Argentina, Boero
emphasized, was not talking about moving to a commercial-scale

effort for many years.

Better Safeguards, not NSG Controls

5. (SBU) Ambassador Kelly registered concerns that the NSG,
comprised she said of many members with no indigenous technology,
would vote to limit Argentina's development of nuclear technology.
Restrictions on technology transfers would not stop would-be
proliferators but would penalize those with a legitimate need to
develop enrichment or reprocessing technology. Instead, she said,
better safeguards and controls were the key. We needed to move
toward the next generation of safeguards, which should be
established multilaterally at the IAEA rather than through the NSG.

6. (SBU) D'Agostino agreed with Kelly on the need for strengthened
IAEA safeguards, and in that regard thanked Kelly for GOA
participation in a recent meeting on DOE's Next Generation
Safeguards Initiative in Washington. He also emphasized that one of
the criteria being proposed within the NSG was subjective, based on
whether the technology in question made sense given a country's
nuclear development plans and capabilities.

Additional Protocol and Paragraph 6

7. (SBU) Both Taccetti and Kelly described Argentina's general
comfort with the AP and reiterated that the GOA could move forward
with the AP when Brazil was ready. Taccetti reiterated that because
Argentina and Brazil were joined by the IAEA in a "trilateral"
safeguards mechanism (the ABACC), Argentina could not move forward
without its partner. Argentina was also relatively comfortable with
mention of the AP under the criteria-based approach, but it would
look to Brazil on this as well. Administrator D'Agostino emphasized
that the USG was working hard for consensus at the NSG, and that he
hoped to provide the GOA with USG-approved language later in the day
in a formulation of paragraph 6 that would assuage Brazil and
Argentina's concerns as non-signatories of the AP by recognizing the
possibility of implementing the AP or an equivalent through the
existing regional safeguards arrangement. He noted that the revised
paragraph 6 would not impact Argentina or Brazil's respective fuel
cycle programs and ensures that any future transfers they might make
are to states that accept the highest nonproliferation standards.
Such a decision could be taken now in the NSG as Argentina and
Brazil resolve implementation issues associated with adherence to
the AP, which remains a U.S. objective.

8. (U) In all three meetings, D'Agostino invited Argentina to send a
delegation of experts to the U.S. to see how the United States was
implementing the AP. The experts would be welcome to Oak Ridge and
other facilities. Taccetti agreed, saying that a visit by ARN and
CNEA officials would be useful for Argentina.

Bottom Lines on NSG Arrangement

9. (SBU) Taccetti was joined by Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General
for Political Coordination. Grossi emphasized at the end of the
meeting that Argentina and the United States were "not that far
apart on the AP" and other issues, and that a NSG consensus should
be possible if the U.S. could "accommodate our technical concerns."
Kelly remained more cautious, emphasizing that Argentina would
object to any attempt to codify a "black box" approach to sharing
technology. "We are not in agreement with this," she said. She
requested that the USG share with Argentina any progress made in its
discussions with Canada on paragraph 7. Although Canada and
Argentina shared similar concerns, she said, they were not
necessarily identical. Administrator D'Agostino emphasized that the
U.S. Government was willing to work with Argentina on language,
prompting Kelly to lament that the USG often provided revised text
where the words were changed but the meaning was still the same.
Argentina, she reiterated, would not abandon its rights to develop
ENR technology or to exchange information on such technologies with
other responsible NPT members.


10. (SBU) Taccetti and Kelly shared once again their reservations
about the U.S.-India Civilian Nuclear Arrangement. Kelly,
specifically, asked about USG views on the future of the NPT and
whether other non-NPT states would get special treatment.
D'Agostino and Scheinman emphasized that the U.S. wanted to see a
coherent and strengthened NPT. Scheinman also said he saw little
reason to expect that Israel or Pakistan would be considered for
similar treatment at the NSG in the near or medium term.



11. (SBU) D'Agostino also raised the question of Argentine
participation in the Megaports Initiative, noting how positive it
would be to identify participation or at least forward movement by
Argentina in documents prepared for the U.S. transition team.
Taccetti said Argentina had wanted an agreement, but that he knows
some in the GOA were concerned about how sensitive information would
remain confidential following screening. Grossi then emphasized
that the main obstacle was an internal GOA one, centered on a
dispute between the Coast Guard and Customs over which agency would
be the responsible partner in such a program. D'Agostino promised
to follow up on the GOA confidentiality concerns while awaiting
Argentina's resolution of the bureaucratic dispute.

12. (SBU) This cable was cleared in draft by DOE/NNSA's Adam
Scheinman and Peter Hanlon.


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