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Cablegate: Santiago Nov. 13 Media Report

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SUBJECT: Santiago Nov. 13 Media Report

Lead Story

1. Today is the beginning of the electoral propaganda
period for the December 13 presidential and parliamentary election
(All dailies 11/13).

U.S.-Related News

2. With a notification to Congress, the USG authorized the
sale of 100 AMRAAM missiles to Chile. With the authorization,
Chile could now go ahead and buy used F-16s from Holland. In South
America only Brazil and Chile have these defense systems; Peru has
the Russian equivalent that it bought ten years ago. The Pentagon
also authorized the sale of Sentinel and SINCARD radar systems.
Defense Minister Francisco Vidal said that at this time Chile is
just gathering "quotes" and the authorization does not mean it will
buy the systems. Vidal also said that the final cost of an
eventual purchase would be "significantly lower" than the amount
authorized by the U.S. Congress. This year Chile announced it would
carry out several military acquisitions, which has led to repeated
accusation from Peru of engaging in an arms race (Conservative,
independent La Tercera, 11/13).

3. The Defense Security and Cooperation Agency notified
Congress of a possible military sale to Chile for US$665 million
dollars. Defense Minister Francisco Vidal said that no decision has
been made on the purchase. He also underscored that Chile is not
in an arms race and cited the Agency's notification to Congress on
make this point. U.S. Ambassador Paul Simons explained that the
agency must notify Congress of all possible sales, noting the
transparency of the system. Defense analyst Raul Sohr: "Chile is
very armed, I would say over-armed and has the highest per capita
military expense in Latin America. I personally see no reason for
it" (Radio Cooperativa online 11/13).

4. Defense Minister Vidal confirmed that the U.S. Congress had
authorized the potential sale of missiles and radar systems to
Chile for a maximum of US$665 dollars. Vidal said that the
purchase is not a done deal and that the military could look for
other alternatives. Vidal said the authorization would "contribute
to upgrade the capability of Chile's military and its
interoperability with other countries without altering the basic
military balance, because it would contribute to the foreign policy
and national security of the United States by improving the
security of a friendly nation -- us-- that has been and continues
to be an important force for political stability and economic
progress of South America" (Government-owned La Nacion, 11/13).

5. The Defense Security and Cooperation Agency notification
includes Stinger missiles, Sentinel radar systems, and AMRAAM
missiles that could be used to equip F-16s. Defense Minister Vidal
said that the Army and Air Force need to renew anti-aircraft
defense systems that have been in use for the past 40 years. He
said that there is an ongoing search for these systems and that the
military could eventually buy other equally competitive weapons
systems. He said these acquisitions would not alter the military
balance in the region and used the Agency's notification to
Congress to rule out an arms race. Vial also noted that Peru
bought the same type of systems years ago (Conservative,
influential El Mercurio, 11/13).

Chile- Peru

6. An Intelligence Peruvian Air Force petty officer was
arrested in Peru for spying for Chile. The officer worked for the
Peruvian Embassy in Santiago in 2003 and was arrested as he tried

to recruit another co-national as a spy. He faces charges for
treason and if convicted could face life imprisonment (El Mercurio,
11/12).

Other

7. A 6.5 degree earthquake on the Reichter Scale hit northern
Chile yesterday. The quake lasted 28 seconds and left 50 percent
of the city of Iquique without electricity. There were no personal
injuries (La Tercera, 11/13).
SIMONS

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