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Cablegate: Prc/Iran: Premier Wen Pushes Rahimi On Dialogue;

VZCZCXRO7040
OO RUEHBC RUEHCN RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHGH RUEHKUK RUEHTRO RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #2932/01 2951203
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 221203Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6544
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 002932

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2034
TAGS: PREL PARM ENRG PTER MNUC IR CH
SUBJECT: PRC/IRAN: PREMIER WEN PUSHES RAHIMI ON DIALOGUE;
CHINA URGES COOPERATION WITH IAEA, P5-PLUS-1

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Aubrey Carlson.
Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: On the margins of Shanghai Cooperation
Organization high-level meetings October 15, PRC Premier Wen
Jiabao urged Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza
Rahimi to move forward with direct talks with the United
States and offered PRC support to do so, according to an MFA
official. Wen reportedly reiterated that Iran had the right
to peaceful nuclear technology, but stressed China's
opposition to Iranian development of nuclear weapons. Our
MFA contact claimed that China recognizes the importance of
seizing the present opportunity and that the Iranian side did
as well. The PRC assesses that Iran's willingness to
negotiate over the nuclear issue comes from Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
but the Iranian regime remains divided over the June election
and its aftermath. Our contact urged the U.S. to downplay
sanctions and seek positive, even if symbolic, benefits to
provide Iran in response to progress in the talks. China has
been pushing Iran to improve its cooperation with the IAEA
and assesses that Iran will make good on its offer to allow
inspectors into the Qom nuclear site. Beijing believes that
Iran's nuclear technology is not as advanced "as some
believe." Iranian Embassy officials in Beijing expressed
satisfaction to the Chinese with the outcomes of the October
1 P5-plus-1-plus-Iran meeting and were particularly positive
on the bilateral meeting with the U.S. side, according to the
MFA. Our contact argued that a constituency within Iranian
society that advocates flexibility on the nuclear issue is a
force in politics, but that the government will need any
negotiations to accrue benefits to Iran given the strength of
the conservative camp. END SUMMARY.

Wen Pushes Iranian Vice President on Nuclear Issue
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. (C) MFA West Asian Affairs Department Iran Division Deputy
Director Ni Ruchi told PolOff October 21 that Premier Wen
Jiabao's October 15 meeting with Iranian First Vice President
Mohammad Reza Rahimi had been brief due to the press of other
issues at the SCO Summit. Ni said that the Chinese side had
raised the nuclear issue and urged Iran to cooperate with the
international community. Wen had pushed the Iranians to move
forward with direct talks with the United States and offered
Chinese support to do so. Wen had stressed that while Iran
had a right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology, China
opposed Iran's development of nuclear weapons. Ni claimed
that Rahimi had responded positively on prospects for talks
with the United States and said that the Iranians were
considering how best to do move forward with dialogue.

Beijing Wants to Seize the Moment, as Does Tehran
--------------------------------------------- ----

3. (C) Ni emphasized the importance for China of the October
1 bilateral talks between the U.S. and Iran in Geneva. He
noted that China had a very positive outlook for improved
U.S. relations with Iran, a development that would be helpful
for progress on the nuclear issue. China recognized the
importance of seizing the present opportunity, Ni said, given
the poor long-term prospects for Iran to improve relations
with the international community should progress fail to
materialize in the near future. He said that the Iranian
side also understood the uniqueness of this opportunity and
the importance of demonstrating progress. He said that
Beijing assessed that Iran was willing to make a deal with
the U.S. on the nuclear issue, adding that this willingness
came from the Supreme Leader, and that President Ahmadinejad
was not the decision-maker on the issue. Ni cautioned,
however, that the Iranian regime remained divided over the
June election and its aftermath, complicating efforts by the
P5-plus-1 to negotiate with the regime.

Trust-Building a Priority for PRC
---------------------------------

4. (C) Ni stressed the need at present to find ways to
increase Iran's trust in the intentions of the P5-plus-1. He
urged the United States to de-emphasize the push for
additional sanctions and to seek positive, even if symbolic,
benefits to give Iran in response to progress in the talks.
He expressed concern that increased pressure from the
international community would strengthen the consensus of
hard-liners in the Iranian regime. Ni reported that Iranian
diplomats had claimed that while they had a high degree of
confidence in President Obama's intentions, they remained
suspicious about his ability to deliver on those intentions
given political realities in the United States. He argued
that China's political efforts to persuade Iran to negotiate

BEIJING 00002932 002 OF 002


in good faith represented an important contribution to the
P5-plus-1 effort to deal with the nuclear issue.

PRC Urges IAEA Cooperation, Downplays Technical Progress
--------------------------------------------- -----------

5. (C) Ni said that China had been pushing Iran to improve
its cooperation with the IAEA and take a positive attitude in
order to allow the agency to develop trust in Iran's
intentions. Beijing understood that technical meetings at
the IAEA this week had achieved progress, Ni said, adding
that China hoped to see progress on the Tehran Research
Reactor fuel proposal. China assessed that Iran would allow
inspectors into the Qom site, Ni said. He stressed, too,
that Iran's nuclear technology was not as advanced "as some
believe," and that Iran's overall level of industrial
development represented a serious impediment to development
of nuclear technology and particularly to weaponization. He
noted that of the 5,000 centrifuges in Iran, less than half
were actually in operation.

Iranian Side Upbeat on October 1 Meeting
----------------------------------------

6. (C) Ni said Iranian embassy contacts in Beijing had
expressed satisfaction with the outcomes of the October
meeting in Geneva, calling the event a "success." Though
concerned that sitting down with the U.S. would be "a
mistake," the Iranians had left the U.S.-Iran bilateral
meeting wanting to continue the process. Ni suggested that
some within the Iranian regime understood the need for a
change in political direction, particularly after the
difficult June election. He also reported that the Iranians
were putting renewed focus on creating an effective plan for
economic development.

MFA: U.S. Should Incentivize, Reward Iranian Progress
--------------------------------------------- --------

7. (C) On direct U.S.-Iran talks, Ni urged the U.S. side to
make a clear statement abandoning the notion of regime
change. He suggested seeking a "cooperative partnership"
with Iran on shared concerns such as security in Iraq and
Afghanistan, and in doing so, recognizing Iran as a major
regional power. He recommended offering concrete and
immediate benefits, especially economic incentives and a
relaxation of existing sanctions, in response to positive
overtures by the Iranian side. These efforts could start
small, he added, but should be focused on sending a clear
signal of sincere intentions to Tehran.

Iranian Leadership Feels Street Pressure on Negotiations
--------------------------------------------- -----------

8. (C) Ni reported that based on his travel to Iran,
considerable debate was taking place among ordinary Iranians
over the utility of the nuclear program. Many Iranians did
not see the use in having nuclear technology and saw it only
as a source of problems, while others saw value in the
possession of nuclear technology but were reconsidering this
view because of progress in talks with the United States. In
contrast, a more conservative constituency in Iran was
disinclined to make any concessions to the international
community on the nuclear issue. In light of this division in
society, Ni argued, the Iranian leadership would not make
concessions without meaningful and visible compensation.
HUNTSMAN

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