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Cablegate: Argentina: Second Dipnote On Transit of Makin

VZCZCXYZ0005
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0939/01 2262106
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 142106Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4227
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/SECNAV WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000939

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PBTS PHSA MARR PGOV AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: SECOND DIPNOTE ON TRANSIT OF MAKIN
ISLAND

REF: BUENOS AIRES 0928

1. (U) Action Request for Department, see para 5.

2. (SBU) Embassy Buenos Aires received a second diplomatic
note from the GOA dated August 13 regarding the transit of
the Amphibious Assault Ship Makin Island LHD8 through the
Strait of Magellan. An Embassy translation of the note
follows:

Opening salutation.

"...and desires to make reference to the transit of the ship,
USS Makin Island, through Argentine territorial waters.

"As per the diplomatic note of August 12, 2009, the Foreign
Minister notes that according to information from the
Argentine Navy, the ship was preparing to transit the Strait
in the direction of the Pacific Ocean. In this context the
Embassy was reminded of the practice of providing information
to Argentine authorities in accordance with the Convention on
the Law of the Sea and the regulations of the Joint Chiefs of
the Argentine Armed forces contained in the "Norms for
Embassy Armed Forces Attaches Accredited to the GOA" (Article
2.2.2).

"In this case, it is necessary to communicate that on that
day the Argentine Navy's observation post at Cabo Virgenes
spotted the ship and at 06:48 hours contacted the ship to ask
for its identification, which was provided by the United
States crew to the observation post. The USS Makin Island
continued its passage and left Argentine territorial waters
for those of Chile.

"This episode constitutes a violation of the applicable
international norms, in that the named vessel entered
Argentine territorial seas without having notified its
intentions prior to its passage through this maritime space.

"The Government of Argentina recalls that in the past the
United States Navy has observed said norms without
exceptions.

"For this reason, the Government of Argentina manifests its
formal protest, at the same time urging the USG and
particularly the U.S. Navy to comply with applicable norms.
That would contribute to keeping military cooperation within
the positive and constructive framework that both nations
promote."

Closing Salutation.

3. (SBU) Although the first note of August 12, per reftel,
was delivered to CDA at a point when GOA authorities knew
that the ship had already passed through the east end of the
Strait, it was written as if the ship was preparing to pass
through but had not yet done so. (CDA was told that the note
had been transmitted on August 12, before the ship approached
the straits, but the Embassy did not receive a note on that
date.) The second note, translated above, records the GOA
protest over the ship having completed the transit.

4. (SBU) Embassy has information about the sequence of
communications at the entrance to the Strait that differs
from that presented in the Argentine note. The referenced
Joint Chiefs of the Argentine Armed forces regulation titled
the "Norms for Embassy Armed Forces Attaches Accredited to
the GOA" (Article 2.2.2) is in a 1998 publication that
specifies the Argentine procedures for passage of war ships
within twelve miles of the coast in the Strait of Magellan.
The salient points of the regulation follow: transiting
closer than 12 miles from the Argentine coast in sovereign
waters by war ships shall be considered to be a visit by that
vessel and will be treated as a visit under established
guidelines. Transit of the Strait of Magellan includes
expedient and unrestricted navigation by the vessel according
to Argentine authorities and all ships must respond to
requests for identification being put to them. Warships will
state their intentions before transiting the straits as
stated on Nautical Chart H-424, first edition, 1984. (Note:
The Argentine regulation is not entirely clear but may be
interpreted as requiring only a hail and notification by the
ship of its intentions at the point of entrance, rather than
advance notification through the Defense Attache. End Note.)

5. (SBU) Action Request: Embassy requests Department
guidance on how to respond to the two diplomatic notes,
including cleared language to utilize. If our view is that
the Strait's status as an international waterway precludes
the necessity of advance notification, then we recommend
communicating that clearly in the response. If there is room
to establish a practice of voluntary notification, even if
not required, that should be conveyed. If the matter is open
to differing interpretations, then Embassy recommends a
response offering further consultations on the matter.
KELLY

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