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Cablegate: U/S Tauscher's December 1-2 Visit to Israel


DE RUEHTV #2757/01 3560922
O 220922Z DEC 09

S E C R E T TEL AVIV 002757


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/22/2019

Classified By: A/DCM Marc Sievers, reasons 1.4 (b),(d)

1. (S) Summary: Under Secretary for Arms Control and
International Security Ellen Tauscher visited Israel December
1-2. U/S Tauscher focused her visit on setting the stage for
a successful Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review
Conference (RevCon) in May 2010. She consulted with GOI
interlocutors on potential strategy in addressing Egyptian
insistence on pushing for the establishment of a nuclear
weapon free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East, as a way to
divert attention from Iran to Israel. U/S Tauscher
reiterated that the United States will not take any action to
compromise Israel's security and would consult closely with
Israel -- which GOI officials greatly appreciated.
Nevertheless, U/S Tauscher said the United States is
interested in exploring possible small steps involving Israel
to address some of Egypt's NWFZ concerns regarding the lack
of implementation of the 1995 resolution. GOI officials for
the most part were critical of these tactics, questioning why
Israel should be portrayed as part of the problem. They
recommended a more direct approach to President Mubarak --
thereby circumventing the Egyptian MFA -- in which Egypt is
reminded that Iran is the regional nuclear threat. Other
topics discussed include President Obama's arms control and
nonproliferation agenda, the P5 1 process and Iran's nuclear
program, the FMCT and CTBT, Jordan's plans for a nuclear
reactor, and Israel's qualitative military edge (QME). End

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2. (SBU) U/S Tauscher met with National Security Advisor Uzi
Arad on December 1. Arad was accompanied by NSC Senior
Advisor and Nuclear Security Summit Sherpa Gil Reich. In a
separate meeting on December 1, U/S Tauscher met with MFA
Director General Yossi Gal, Deputy Director General for North
America Baruch Bina, and Deputy Director General for
Strategic Affairs Alon Bar. U.S. participants for the Arad
and Gal meetings included Political Counselor Marc Sievers, T
Senior Advisor James Timbie, NSC's Adam Scheinman, and
political military officer Jason Grubb. U/S Tauscher met for
dinner with Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) and MFA
senior officials on December 1, including IAEC Director
General Saul Chorev, Deputy Director General David Danieli,
and Director for Policy and Arms Control Merav Zefary-Odiz,
as well as MFA DDG Bar and Director for Arms Control Rodica
Radian-Gordon. On December 2, U/S Tauscher met for breakfast
with MOD Political-Military Chief Amos Gilad; U.S. attendees
included Charge D'Affaires Luis Moreno, Timbie, Scheinman,
and Grubb.

Arms Control/Nonproliferation Agenda

3. (S) In various meetings with GOI interlocutors, U/S
Tauscher outlined an ambitious arms control and
nonproliferation agenda, beginning with the President's
Prague speech, and including other priorities such as a
follow-on to START, CTBT ratification, the upcoming NPT
Review Conference, and negotiating the FMCT. She noted that
negotiations with Moscow on START were slow to develop in
part due to delayed confirmations and Russian wariness. But
U/S Tauscher expected a START follow-on -- including a strong
verification regime -- soon.

4. (S) National Security Advisor Arad described President
Obama's arms control and nonproliferation agenda as "daunting
and challenging." He reaffirmed that the GOI will
participate in the April 2010 Nuclear Security summit in
Washington, noting that PM Netanyahu planned to attend the
summit as discussed between President Obama and PM Netanyahu
during their recent one-on-one meeting in Washington. GOI
Nuclear Summit Sherpa Gil Reich noted, however, that the
Holocaust memorial day in Israel might be a potential
scheduling conflict with the summit. Arad expressed
appreciation for the summit, noting that if the initiative
had been pursued ten years previously, perhaps proliferation
cases such as AQ Khan might have been prevented or at least
controlled. He wished the United States success negotiating
with the Russians on START.

5. (S) Due to the U.S. administration's prioritization of
arms control and nonproliferation, Arad also noted that the
GOI had recently reconvened a high level committee on these
issues comprised of GOI officials and experts from outside
the government. He noted that the committee had been formed
during President George Herbert Walker Bush's administration
to analyze treaties such as the CWC and CTBT, but stopped
meeting in 2007. U/S Tauscher expressed interest in meeting
with the group during her next visit to Israel; Arad took the
request on board.

Egypt and the NPT

6. (S) On the NPT, U/S Tauscher reiterated the importance of
a successful Review Conference -- including hopefully a
consensus resolution. She raised U.S. concerns over
potential Egyptian actions at the RevCon, based on previous
decades of behavior and "10-15 year-old talking points." U/S
Tauscher said the United States is not "naive" with respect
to Egypt; nevertheless, the United States must make a
sincere, good faith effort to create the conditions for a
positive RevCon -- this might include small steps with Israel
to address some of Egypt's desire to demonstrate progress in
implementation of the 1995 resolution on a region free of
weapons of mass destruction.

7. (S) That said, U/S Tauscher reiterated that the United
States would consult and coordinate with Israel, and would
take no action that might compromise Israel's security. She
noted that the United States would like to elevate the NPT
RevCon issue to President Mubarak at an appropriate time, and
expressed interest in developing an alternate communication
track to Mubarak to circumvent the MFA, potentially through
Egyptian Intelligence Minister LTG Suleiman. U/S Tauscher
said her message to Cairo will be "very tough," and that
Egyptian obstructionist behavior linking Israel to Iran's
nuclear program is not helping Egypt.

8. (S) Arad said relations with Egypt were "relatively good,"
describing continued dialogue between PM Netanyahu and
President Mubarak, and strong channels of communication at
other levels. In many respects, he said Israel's relations
with Egypt are almost as good as during PM Rabin's time.
Arad said Egypt and Israel do not see "eye-to-eye" on some
issues such as Gaza and the Palestinian Authority, but
otherwise relations are strong.

9. (S) Arad described the Egyptian MFA, however, as a
"nagging problem" in the relationship, particularly regarding
the Middle East NWFZ issue, and noted Cairo's refusal to talk
to FM Lieberman. Other GOI officials expressed exasperation
over Egyptian motivations on the NWFZ; Reich raised Egyptian
behavior at the latest IAEA General Conference, as well as
Cairo's negative reaction to the IAEA Board of Governor's
recent statement on Iran. Arad said Israel has supported a
regional NWFZ as far back as 1992, provided Israel enjoyed
peaceful relations with its neighbors. He said the GOI has
spoken frankly with Cairo, noting that such behavior is not
helpful, and is misdirecting focus away from Iran.

10. (S) MOD Political-Military Chief Amos Gilad said Egypt
understands that Iran is the real threat to the region,
noting that a nuclear weapon-armed Iran is a redline for
Cairo. He averred that Egypt does not accept that Iran will
become a superpower, but remains afraid of its own domestic
political situation post-Mubarak. Gilad expressed succession
concerns, noting that Mubarak is "approaching the past more
quickly than the future." He added that Mubarak does not
have confidence in Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit.

11. (S) MFA Deputy Director General for Strategic Affairs
Alon Bar outlined repeated attempts by the GOI to engage with
the Egyptian MFA, but to no avail. He described Egyptian
actions linking Israel to Iran's nuclear program in the IAEA
as "not encouraging," and questioned how to convince Egypt to
drop this "obsession" over the NWFZ. Israel Atomic Energy
Commission (IAEC) Director General Saul Chorev and Arms
Control Director Merav Zefary-Odiz speculated that Egypt
feels challenged by Iranian attempts to acquire nuclear
weapons, and includes Israel in any public attack on Tehran
in order to give Cairo coverage from regional criticism. Bar
argued that the Egyptian MFA raises Israel's nuclear program
as a "wedge issue" in order to prevent better relations
between Israel and others in the region. IAEC Deputy
Director General David Danieli concurred, noting that Egypt
can use the nuclear issue to put Israel "in a corner" while
benefiting from positive relations between the two countries.

12. (S) Zefary-Odiz also reviewed her participation in an
International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and
Disarmament conference in September 2009 in Cairo. She
described the conference as "very confrontational," and that
it was clear Israel was targeted by Egyptian interlocutors.
Zefary-Odiz acknowledged that the GOI had anticipated such
behavior, and contemplated skipping the conference. She
noted that Egyptian officials also lambasted Iranian
participants, but were always careful to include Israel and
Iran in the same sentence.

13. (S) Arad said the GOI will take their cue from U.S.
"heavy-lifting": if there is a small step -- "not a
concession," he stressed -- that Israel could take to help
facilitate, then the GOI would consider it. He noted that
the GOI wanted to see a "reversal of trends" from Egypt
regarding Iran's nuclear program -- after all, it is in
Egypt's interest to do so. He said Israel continues to have
reservations regarding the NPT -- following nuclear pursuits
by Libya, Syria, and Iran, it is clear to the GOI that the
NPT is not sufficient and must be strengthened. The goal of
the NPT, he stressed, should not be to "prevent the next
Iran, but to stop Iran in order to prevent the next Iran"
from occurring.

14. (S) Chorev speculated that Egypt will aim to ruin the
RevCon. Bar said the Egyptians have not been held
accountable for past bad behavior at the NPT RevCon -- "they
have never paid the price." He noted that Cairo knows the
importance the United States attaches to a successful RevCon,
and therefore will try to leverage a "high price" in order
not to ruin it. He noted similar tactics with regard to
Egypt's counter-smuggling efforts along the border with Gaza.

15. (S) Timbie outlined several small steps that might
address Egyptian concerns and demonstrate progress in
implementation of the 1995 resolution and the Middle East
NWFZ: an IAEA forum on the experience of other regional
NWFZs; a special coordinator or rappateur on 1995 resolution
implementation; a statement from the United States, United
Kingdom and Russia reiterating the importance of the 1995
resolution; and exploring text with Israel and Egypt on
universality and compliance.

16. (S) Gilad questioned these steps from a
"tactical/strategic" context, and suggested this was not a
tactical matter. He argued against creating the impression
that Israel was the problem. Instead, Gilad recommended a
strategic, traditional approach -- concessions will only be
used by Egypt as leverage. He suggested the United States
remind Egypt of its special relationship based on U.S.
support, and reaffirm that Iran is the "bad guy." Gilad said
Egypt should also be reminded that most countries in the
region agree with the NWFZ concept in principle; the Egyptian
MFA's insistence on an immediate NWFZ neither fits the
current political reality nor makes sense as it diverts focus
from Iranian intransigence. He noted that Egypt listens to
the United States; it is therefore important to speak clearly
and directly when taking the issue to Mubarak.

17. (S) Chorev and Zefary-Odiz argued these steps had been
tried in the past -- and had failed. Danieli questioned why
Israel should take any steps at all. Based on experience at
the IAEA and the UN First Committee on Disarmament and
International Security, he said "nothing satisfies Egypt" as
Cairo "pockets every concession" and demands more -- "it's a
slippery slope." Danieli said Israel will not "play by
Egypt's rules." Bar concurred, noting that Egypt will "raise
the bar," and begin negotiations with these small steps as
the baseline -- he was skeptical such steps would prove

18. (S) Arad characterized these steps as "talking endlessly"
-- that is "not progress," he said. He was uncomfortable
discussing Israel NPT compliance, especially as Israel is not
a party to the treaty. He also raised concerns regarding the
definition of the Middle East NWFZ -- did it also include
Pakistan, India and Iran, for example? Arad said such
questions should be posed to Cairo -- if Egypt is willing to
include Pakistan in its definition of a Middle East NWFZ,
then we can take that as a signal that Cairo is ready for a
serious conversation on the matter.

19. (S) Zefary-Odiz argued that the NPT as a "global
solution" is not appropriate in the current political
realities of the Middle East. Due to the region's prior
track record of NPT non-compliance, she said a gradual,
step-by-step process employing confidence building measures
be used to improve relations between neighbors. NPT partner
obligations should be enhanced, not reduced, she said.
Zefary-Odiz noted that only after peaceful relations are
established can arms control measures be pursued, starting
with conventional weapons and later focusing on
chemical/biological/nuclear arms. She said that Egypt and
other Arab states de-link comprehensive peace from arms
control measures -- Israel views these elements as
inseparable and sequential.

20. (S) On a related note, Chorev asked if Israel should
attend the RevCon as an observer. U/S Tauscher and Timbie
replied that the decision was ultimately the GOI's to make,
but offered to raise the issue in Washington . Chorev noted
that Israel would be careful not to "make any noise," and
could play a positive, consultative role. On the other hand,
Danieli acknowledged the argument that as a non-party,
perhaps it was not appropriate for Israel to attend.


21. (S) U/S Tauscher said the United States was very
concerned about the recently announced Iranian plans to build
ten additional uranium enrichment facilities. She reiterated
the two track strategy of persuasion and pressure, and noted
that the time for persuasion is "waning." U/S Tauscher said
the United States has "created the coalition" it had hoped
for, and was happy to see the recent IAEA BOG's resolution
transferred to the UNSC.

22. (S) U/S Tauscher noted that the United States was working
hard through the P5 1 process to encourage Russian and
Chinese cooperation to counter continued Iranian
intransigence and inflammatory rhetoric -- Russia and China
are "lynch pins," she said. She noted that Russia had worked
closely with the United States on the Tehran Research Reactor
(TRR) proposal, which Moscow considered an "elegant
solution," -- but Iran had not agreed. Keeping Russia
engaged, U/S Tauscher explained, also means Chinese

23. (S) MOD Political-Military Chief Amos Gilad described
recent Russian cooperation on Iran as encouraging, but
expressed reservations that Russia would join in any
sanctions against Iran. He explained that Moscow has raised
the provision of sophisticated Israeli unmanned aerial
vehicle (UAV) technology in exchange for canceling the S-300
sale to Tehran. Gilad said that Russian interlocutors had
acknowledged development gaps in their UAV platform, and is
prepared to pay USD one billion for Israeli UAV technology.
He reiterated that Israel will not provide its latest UAV
technology, arguing that such technology would likely end up
in the hands of the Chinese.

24. (S) Arad said the GOI appreciated the United States'
efforts regarding Iran, noting how hard the United States has
worked to build an alliance. He pointed to the recent IAEA
Board of Governor's resolution as a successful example of
U.S. efforts. Regarding the Qom facility, Arad said the GOI
was not surprised by Tehran's "chutzpah." He described a
high degree of alertness in Israel, and added that the GOI
studies daily Iranian posturing and boastful announcements in
an attempt to discern Iranian intentions. Arad commented
that the trends are bad, as Iran continues to accumulate low
enriched uranium.

25. (S) MFA DG Gal said there was not much difference in the
national intelligence estimations (U.S., UK, France, and
Russia) regarding Iran. He said the GOI takes "very
seriously" Iranian plans for ten new enrichment facilities --
"time is of the essence," and "now is the time to implement
crippling sanctions," he added. Gal likened the case for
enhanced sanctions to prescribed antibiotics from a doctor --
one must take the full course of antibiotics for the
prescribed period of time, or they will not work.

26. (S) Turning to his crystal ball, Gilad was not sure
Tehran had decided it wants a nuclear weapon -- but is
"determined" to obtain the option to build one. He
acknowledged that the engagement strategy is a good idea --
"as long as you understand that it will not work." Gilad
said it should be clear by February 2010 that engagement as a
option has failed -- the imposition of "crippling sanctions"
for the February/March/April timeframe is crucial. He said
Russian cooperation will be the key, and the current Russian
cooperative mind-set cannot necessarily be counted on in
several weeks time. By June of next year, Gilad said it
should be clear whether sanctions have worked. However,
given Tehran's clandestine nuclear program (e.g., Qom), he
said it will not be clear when Iran has reached the "point of
no return" -- he doubted Iran will choose to let it overtly
known that it has produced a nuclear weapon.


27. (S) IAEC DG Chorev raised the FMCT's future in the
Conference on Disarmament. U/S Tauscher acknowledged
frustration with Pakistan, and noted that while Washington
places a high priority on the FMCT, other efforts like a
START follow-on and the CTBT will come first. Timbie added
that it will take some time to negotiate an FMCT.

28. (S) Chorev asked about the current prospects for CTBT
ratification in the Senate. U/S Tauscher noted that the
START follow-on was a higher priority, and said the Senate
will likely focus on the Law of the Sea treaty before turning
its attention to the CTBT. She pointed to mid-term
Congressional elections in 2010, and explained that focusing
on the CTBT in 2011 might be more prudent given the
controversy associated with the treaty. U/S Tauscher
explained the necessity of making the case for the CTBT, and
hoped to build political momentum in favor of the treaty
through the release of the Nuclear Posture Review, a new
national intelligence estimate, and the handover on the
stockpile stewardship program.

29. (S) Chorev asked that the United States consult with the
GOI on the CTBT, where he said Israel could be "more flexible
than the FMCT." U/S Tauscher asked if the GOI might be
willing to make affirmative statements in support of the
CTBT; Chorev made no promises, but suspected such a statement
might be possible -- especially if it would help with Senate

30. (S) Chorev described the FMCT as "very difficult" for
Israel. Scheinman confirmed that negotiations would be based
on the 2006 draft FMCT text, with an added verification
regime that is being worked on -- he described the
verification regime's definitions as "critical" in that
regard. Danieli questioned the FMCT's added value, arguing
that it would have little impact. He asked who was the
FMCT's real target -- India, Pakistan or even Israel?

Jordanian Nuclear Reactor

31. (S) IAEC DG Chorev raised Jordanian plans to build a
nuclear reactor. He said the GOI has decided not to oppose
the reactor, and have offered the Jordanians Israeli
expertise on where best to build it. Chorev said the IAEC
formed a steering committee with its Jordanian counterpart
comprised of three working groups focusing on safety,
geological surveys, and water issues. Chorev said the
steering committee first met in Amman in June 2009, and is
waiting to convene again. Danieli stressed that the GOI does
not want to hamper the Jordanian nuclear plans, but added
that Israel has concerns about border issues and security
associated with the reactor. Timbie said the United States
is pushing Jordan to sign a 123 Agreement along the same
lines as the recent agreement signed with UAE, only stronger.
Zefary-Odiz noted that Egypt is putting tremendous pressure
on Jordan not to accept a 123 Agreement.


32. (S) U/S Tauscher reiterated the United States' strong
commitment to Israel's Qualitative Military Edge (QME), and
expressed appreciation for the GOI's willingness to work with
us through the newly created QME working groups. Both MOD
Pol-Mil Chief Gilad and MFA DDG Bar commended the newly
created QME working groups, and asked they be scheduled to
convene as soon as possible.

33. (U) T has cleared this cable.


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