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Cablegate: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Warns Doe Depsec Poneman About Iran

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAD #1151/01 3511307
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 171307Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0042
INFO GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC

S E C R E T ABU DHABI 001151

NOFORN
SIPDIS
STATE FOR NEA/FO AND NEA/ARP
ENERGY FOR S1, S2, O???CONNOR AND SANDOLOW

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/17
TAGS: PGOV PREL PARM ENRG IR YM AE
SUBJECT: ABU DHABI CROWN PRINCE WARNS DOE DEPSEC PONEMAN ABOUT IRAN

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard G. Olson, Ambassador, State, US Embassy Abu
Dhabi, UAE; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (S/NF) Summary: During a December 9 meeting in Abu Dhabi (other
meetings reported septel), Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel
Poneman told Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) that
the USG shared many energy policy priorities with the UAE,
including renewable energy development and the importance of
critical energy infrastructure protection. Poneman briefed MbZ on
the Teheran Research Reactor (TRR) proposal and Vienna talks. MbZ
said he would be surprised if Iran accepted the P5+1/IAEA proposal
and warned that Iran was already acting like a nuclear power.
Further, and more dangerously, Iran is establishing "emirates"
across the Muslim world, including South Lebanon and Gaza, sleeper
"emirates" in Kuwait, Bahrain, and the Eastern Province of Saudi
Arabia, the mother of all "emirates" in Southern Iraq, and now
Saada in Yemen. MbZ suggested that the U.S. is misreading the
situation in Yemen and failing to recognize strong evidence of
Iranian support. End Summary.

POTENTIAL COOPERATION:

RENEWABLES, INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION

-------------------------------------

2. (SBU) The Crown Prince asked DepSec Poneman several questions
about U.S. energy development plans, including the outlook for the
next 25 years. Poneman explained President Obama and Secretary Chu
have a strategic vision of a new energy economy with a low carbon
profile. In the short term, Poneman said DOE is investing Recovery
Act funds to improve efficiency and support new technologies, but
that the USG seeks to facilitate energy development through a
portfolio approach, not dictate what the market should pursue. On
nuclear, MbZ specifically asked what progress could be expected
within the next three years. Poneman said there are a number of
active deals under development, and strong public support for
nuclear power, but that capital costs continue to be a challenge.
(Comment: MbZ pressed hard on US plans for a nuclear renaissance,
suggesting to us that he is worried we may compete with his program
in the hunt for nuclear engineering and technical talent. End
Comment.) Turning to renewable energy and efficiency, the DepSec
noted that USG goals are very much in line with Abu Dhabi's own
Masdar (Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company) and that he looked forward
to greater DOE-Masdar cooperation (septel).

3. (SBU) Poneman also told MbZ that the USG is interested in
supporting Abu Dhabi's critical energy infrastructure protection
(CEIP) plans and said a DOE team was discussing cooperation
potential with the Critical National Infrastructure Authority
(CNIA, reported septel). Learning from Hurricane Katrina, DOE was
focused on survivability of assets, resiliency and recovery. MbZ
said he was personally very interested in greater cooperation with
the U.S. on CEIP, through DOE, other USG entities and/or the
private sector. He stressed that citizens' confidence in their
government was very important, noting "We're doing our best to make
them feel secure." MbZ added that while UAE is a small country, it
has the resources to protect itself, and is willing to invest in
top-quality infrastructure protection.

IRAN

----

4. (S/NF) DepSec Poneman briefed MbZ on the international proposal
for Iran to ship 1,200 kg of Low Enriched Uranium produced at
Natanz to a location outside Iran and where it would be enriched to
20 percent for use to produce medical radioisotopes at the Tehran
Research Reactor. Poneman stressed that the IAEA, the Russians,
and the U.S. had all taken every possible step to address stated
Iranian concerns, including a first-ever official USG statement of
support for the proposal. He stressed that the offer would not
remain open indefinitely; as DG El Baradei had said, this is a
"fleeting" opportunity. He also explained that the extra effort
had strengthened international cooperation, with Russia and China
supportive of the recent IAEA Board of Governors resolution.


Poneman stressed that the deal was not offered out of naivete, but
rather out of the view that if Iran agreed it would remove a
significant amount of LEU from Natanz and if Iran refused it would
help build international support - beginning with Russia and China
- for tougher sanctions.

5. (S/NF) The Crown Prince said he would be "very surprised" if a
deal was possible, as Iran's nuclear program is not an issue of
internal conflict but rather one of national pride for the vast
majority of Iranians. He stressed that Iran is not North Korea,
because 1) it is looking to reestablish a Persian empire in the
21st century, 2) Iran has resources and lacks neighbors, including
the UAE, who can pressure it, 3) the leadership has not changed (it
is the same people who seized Embassy Tehran in 1979) , and 4) Iran
believes itself to be a superpower. Poneman said the USG does not
disagree with MbZ's analysis, but believes pride makes the Iranian
leadership more susceptible to the pressure of the world community
uniting against them, whereas North Korea revels in its own
isolation. MbZ agreed, and emphasized the strategic importance of
creating a Palestinian State (i.e., resolving the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict) as the way to create genuine Middle
Eastern unity on the question of Iran's nuclear program and
regional ambitions.

YEMEN

-----

6. (S/NF) MbZ said Iran already acts like a superpower and
explained that, while the UAE is a federation of emirates, Iran's
"emirates" have a larger army and budget that the UAE. In addition
to Iran's established emirates in South Lebanon and Gaza, sleeper
emirates in Kuwait, Bahrain, the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia,
and the mother of all emirates in Southern Iraq. Now Iran has an
emirate in Saada. MbZ told Poneman, "We believe you don't want us
to believe" the mounting evidence of Iranian involvement in Yemen.
He stressed that he doesn't believe Ali Abdullah Saleh either, but
this is "not like cracking the enigma code" (in World War II),
there are Iranian ships unloading weapons for the Houthis, and "you
have the capability to track this." He warned, "We know your
priority is Al-Qaeda, but don't forget Iran. Al-Qaeda is not going
to get a nuclear bomb; Iran is a matter of time."

7. (SBU) DepSec Poneman has cleared this cable.
OLSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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