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Cablegate: Istc Governing Board in Moscow Approves Working

VZCZCXRO8218
PP RUEHAST RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHSK RUEHVK
DE RUEHMO #3151/01 3641542
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301542Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5836
INFO RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA PRIORITY 0372
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK PRIORITY 2748
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE PRIORITY 0086
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV PRIORITY 0395
RUEHSK/AMEMBASSY MINSK PRIORITY 0001
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 1758
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 2813
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 3921
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 4312
RUEHYE/AMEMBASSY YEREVAN PRIORITY 0550
RUEHAST/AMCONSUL ALMATY PRIORITY 0015
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG PRIORITY 5566
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK PRIORITY 3437
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MOSCOW 003151

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR ISN/CTR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KNNP PARM TSPL RS
SUBJECT: ISTC GOVERNING BOARD IN MOSCOW APPROVES WORKING
GROUP ON TRANSFORMATION; CELEBRATES 15 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
AMID UNCERTAIN FUTURE

Sensitive but Unclassified ) please handle accordingly.

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Amid continued uncertainty over its future, the
International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) held
Coordinating Committee (CC) and Governing Board (GB)
meetings, and celebrated its fifteen-year anniversary
December 7-10, 2009 in Moscow. The GB agreed to establish a
working group, to be co-chaired by the U.S. and Russia, to
discuss the future of the ISTC. The main objective is to
address Russian questions about the ISTC,s continuing
relevance. Arguing that its assistance legislation did not
give it any flexibility, the European Union opposed U.S.
language in a draft "joint statement" designed to alleviate
Russian embarrassment over the existing ISTC Agreement,s
implication that Russian scientists remain the same kind of
proliferation threat they did in the early 1990's. All
participants were able to agree to weaker language that
reiterated the December 2008 GB statement about the ISTC's
success in meeting its original objective of redirecting
former weapons scientists.

2. (SBU) Secretary Clinton's congratulatory message at the
December 10 celebration of the ISTC's 15th Anniversary, read
by Ambassador Beyrle, sent a strong signal of U.S.
sensitivity to Russian concerns and interest in developing a
reinvigorated ISTC. The U.S. Party led by Ambassador Bonnie
Jenkins also held bilateral meetings with senior officials
from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, state nuclear
power corporation Rosatom, and the four other Funding Parties
of the ISTC. The MFA, which opposes the ISTC in its current
form, was pointedly absent from all of the week's official
events. END SUMMARY.

3. (U) A U.S. delegation led by Coordinator for Cooperative
Threat Reduction Programs Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, and
including Department, DOE, and Embassy officials,
participated in the preparatory ISTC Coordinating Committee,
a non-governmental organizations (NGO) Roundtable, the
decision-making Governing Board, and Fifteenth Anniversary
meetings in Moscow December 7-10, 2009. U.S. GB member
Victor Alessi and overall GB Chairman Ronald Lehman also
played important roles in the meetings.

-------------------------------
Working Group on Transformation
-------------------------------

4. (SBU) At the CC meeting, the U.S. Party put forward
language that went beyond the December 2008 GB Statement
recognizing the success of the ISTC in achieving its original
mission of redirecting weapons scientists and proposing that
a consultative process therefore be developed to discuss
future options for the ISTC. The European Union (EU) and
Russian Party agreed in principle to establishing a
consultative body but not to the statement as proposed. In
pre-meeting discussions in Moscow, the EU representatives
said that they had been unable to get clearance for the
stronger language in a U.S.-proposed "joint statement"
designed to allay Russian irritation over the existing ISTC
Agreement's implication that Russian scientists still
represent a serious proliferation threat. Such a statement,
the EU argued, would undermine their legislation's
justification for assisting Russia, a justification founded
on the need to redirect Russian scientists. At the GB
meeting, the Parties agreed to the related U.S. proposal to
open consultations among the ISTC parties in order to find
common ground on which to base a possibly transformed Center.

MOSCOW 00003151 002 OF 004


Russian GB member Lev Ryabev suggested that a working group
be established at which he would be able to present his
"personal" views. Accepting this idea, the GB Record of
Decisions included the following: "The Board decided to set
up a working party with a mandate to discuss options and to
make proposals regarding the future of the ISTC including a
possible review of the Agreement." The U.S. drafted Terms of
Reference for the Working Group and received feedback from
the other Parties. The Working Party will meet in Moscow in
March and will be prepared to report to the GB at the next
meeting in June.

------------------------------------
Shifting U.S. Priorities at the ISTC
------------------------------------

5. (U) The U.S. continues to focus its funding at the ISTC on
projects that relate to nonproliferation cooperation,
institutionalization of financial self-sustainability, and
support of supplemental budget activities such as the
Targeted Initiative on Biosecurity. This is in line with our
vision of a transformed ISTC that can be a platform for
scientific cooperation among equal partners on areas of
global importance, including nonproliferation ) in contrast
to the existing, assistance-based mission centered on
redirecting weapons scientists. At the CC, the U.S.
announced funding for a project to develop technologies to
more effectively detect nuclear materials in cargo, an
initiative on the prevention of biological threats, and an
agreed framework to cooperate with Russia on high-intensity
light research. The U.S. also encouraged the Secretariat to
continue to develop an initiative on nuclear forensics.


--------------------------------------
Russian Perspectives on Future of ISTC
--------------------------------------

6. (SBU) In discussions on the margins of the meetings,
Rosatom representative and Russian GB member Lev Ryabev
agreed to the U.S.-proposed consultations on the future of
the ISTC. Ryabev suggested a working group that he could
attend as a member of the GB. Ryabev said that all Russian
stakeholders agreed that the ISTC had been a success and that
the situation had changed dramatically since the ISTC was
launched fifteen years ago. The point, consequently, was that
there was no longer a nonproliferation threat from Russian
scientists (a view that MFA representative Rozhkov strongly
emphasized in a separate meeting*see para 10). The 1992
ISTC Agreement, in effect, labeled Russia a nonproliferation
threat; this stigma represented a serious problem for the
Russian government today. Ryabev said there were varied
points of view within the government on a future role in
Russia for the ISTC. Some proposals had been made, including
that the ISTC be closed, but no final decisions yet reached.
With the scientist redirection objective accomplished, the
task now, in Ryabev's own view, was to define a new objective
for the ISTC. In a brief discussion with Ambassador Beyrle,
he stressed that Russia would not agree to continue the ISTC
for its own sake, but might be willing to support
transformation in the context of demonstrating that it would
add value for implementing new science projects of benefit to
Russia. The projects, not the ISTC, should be the starting
point. Rozhkov made similar points separately at the MFA.

------------------------------------
Roundtable with NGO Representatives
------------------------------------


MOSCOW 00003151 003 OF 004


7. (SBU) In a roundtable hosted by Post, representatives from
the Center for Policy Studies in Russia (PIR Center) and the
Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF)in Moscow
met with Ambassador Jenkins to share views on the ISTC and
Russian nonproliferation activities in general. The PIR
Board is composed of many well-known Russian and U.S.
nonproliferation experts, including Anatoly Antonov, Nikolay
Spassiky, and Rose Gottemoeller. The Russian PIR
representative stated that the ISTC was perceived very
differently among various parties in Russia, from very
positive to not so positive. In this context, he referenced
other initiatives dating back to Gorbachev times and how many
of those had been forgotten.

8. (SBU) In the context of discussing transitioning the ISTC
from an assistance-based organization to one based on
partnership, the representative for the Civilian Research and
Development Foundation (CRDF) in Moscow stated "technical
assistance is a necessary part of partnership", that
partnership should not replace technical assistance in
relations between Russia and the U.S., and that any
transition should be conducted over a period of several
years. In separate informal meetings, the representative from
PIR agreed to explore the possibility of hosting a roundtable
among government representatives and nonproliferation experts
in Russia on the future of the ISTC.

------------------------------------
ISTC CELEBRATES 15 YEARS OF SUCCESS
-----------------------------------
9. (U) A December 10 day devoted to celebration of the ISTC's
15th anniversary drew hundreds of past and present
participants in its programs. Due attention was given to a
review of the scientific achievements of the ISTC over the
past 15 years. The key sentiment expressed by
representatives of Russian and other former Soviet Union
scientific institutions was gratitude for ISTC assistance at
a critical time for their countries. Ambassador Beyrle, an
engaged supporter of the ISTC, read a congratulatory message
from Secretary Clinton. It gave a strong endorsement to the
work of the ISTC and acknowledged that the challenge it had
been originally designed for has been met, but also
recognized its potential to make new contributions and
expressed U.S. interest in making the ISTC a "nexus for
renewed and refocused engagement" with scientists of the FSU
and perhaps beyond. In discussions with Beyrle and his
staff, Jenkins reviewed the options Washington felt the ISTC
faced: possible improvements under the existing Agreement,
more sweeping transformation under a review ) including
possible amendment ) of the Agreement, termination of the
ISTC in favor of other, admittedly less capable, instruments
of scientific cooperation, if that became necessary. Beyrle
noted the Embassy's misgivings about an approach that might
reopen the existing Agreement, citing the danger that the
existing tax and other privileges could be lost in the
process. Separately, all of the ISTC funding partners
expressed similar concerns, while noting it would be
difficult to avoid this issue.

--------------------------------------------- -----------
Ambassador Jenkins' Bilateral Meetings with ROSATOM and MFA
--------------------------------------------- -----------

10. (SBU) Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins also raised the G-8
Global Partnership and the Nuclear Summit in meetings with
MFA and Rosatom officials. MFA Deputy Director, DVBR
(Security and Disarmement Department), Oleg Rozhkov noted
that he was pleased with the pre-Tokyo text of the Nuclear
Summit Work Plan and could accept most of the language, while
reiterating the position laid out in Rome that the Russians
have no redlines on GP geographic expansion but do want

MOSCOW 00003151 004 OF 004


assurance that existing commitments will be fulfilled and
clarity on the amount of additional funds to be made
available. He noted that the Summit should be focused and not
distracted by other issues that other countries might raise
and that, in agreement with a statement by Beyrle, Russia
should have a prominent role in the Summit. Rozhkov opined
that ISTC's mission in Russia was completed, and it would do
better to pursue non-proliferation objectives elsewhere. In
response to Amb. Jenkin's suggestion that the two countries
initiate a dialogue on the future of the ISTC, he said it
would be useful to discuss how fruitfully to use ISTC's
current assets in other countries. Any future for ISTC in
Russia would depend on identifying new programs first and
then demonstrating the usefulness of ISTC for implementing
them.

11. (SBU) For Rosatom's part, Deputy Director General
Spasskiy told Ambassador Jenkins he worried that a full
nonproliferation schedule of activities between January and
the Nuclear Summit will result in rushed decision making on
GP issues. Spasskiy said that Russian nonproliferation
priorities are, in order, START, CTBT, and the 123 Agreement.
He also stated that the Nuclear Summit "cannot be a seminar"
and that "it has to be a summit" and that the entire process
should be carefully prepared and orchestrated so as to not
upstage the NPT Review Conference. Regarding ISTC, Spasskiy
said both ISTC's goals and economic privileges in Russia
belonged to an earlier time. On the way forward, it would be
important to protect both the pipeline of ISTC projects and
our cooperation.
Rubin

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