Cablegate: U/S Rood Dialogue with Israel: Non-Proliferation

Published: Mon 4 Aug 2008 12:22 PM
DE RUEHTV #1693/01 2171222
P 041222Z AUG 08
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 001693
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/04/2018
Classified By: Classified by Charge d,Affaires Luis Moreno for reason 1
.4 (b) and (d).
1. (U) On July 16, Acting Under Secretary John Rood held a
Strategic Affairs Dialogue with members of the GOI, including
MFA, Israeli Defense Intelligence (IDI), and the Israel
Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC). This is the last of three
cables covering the dialogue, focusing on non-proliferation
and arms control. The previous cables (ref A and B)
discussed Iran and Syria.
2. (C) SUMMARY: During the discussions, Acting Under
Secretary Rood discussed the new cluster munitions policy and
explained that we are taking steps to minimize the impact on
Israel's security. Israel gave its definition of the
Qualitative Military Edge (QME) and underscored that it
understands the importance of supporting moderate countries
within the QME. Israel also emphasized that it is in favor
of civilian nuclear power programs, as long as careful
safeguards are followed. On multilateral efforts, Israel
believes Egypt will continue to press the nuclear-weapons
free zone resolution in the UN First Committee. U/S Rood
then laid out the U.S. position in other areas, including
Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Conference on Disarmament
(CD), the Global Initiative (GI), and the Proliferation
Security Initiative (PSI). Finally, Israel expressed concern
over North Korea's proliferation and asked that it be
emphasized during six-party talks.
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Israel: Cluster Munitions Stocks Critical to Security
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3. (C) Israel emphasized that the pre-positioned cluster
munitions (CM) stocks are critical to Israel's security.
They understand the USG concerns, and will continue to
discuss all issues in the Cluster Munitions Working Group
(CMWG). Israel will also transfer all information for
unexploded ordinance (UXO clean-up), but Israel will not
provide international organizations the same data it gives
the U.S., as information given to those groups often end up
in the wrong hands. Israel also asserted that it has been
very cooperative on UXOs in Lebanon and is upset that the UN
does not seem to appreciate their efforts.
4. (C) Under Secretary Rood pointed out that CMs are getting
a lot of attention, and the Congress has taken a direct
interest. While we are disappointed with the Dublin/Oslo
process, we have instituted a new CM policy that addresses
concerns that proponents have raised. We are doing a review
of the legal process for transferring the pre-positioned CM
stocks as part of this new policy. We may need to request a
614 waiver from the President, or we may seek legislative
relief directly for Israel. Israel said that EUCOM indicated
their pre-positioned stocks would be decommissioned in the
near future under the new policy. Rood assured them that
while the review is required, and the munitions in the
pre-positioned stocks would eventually be replaced by 1% CMs,
this is not happening anytime soon.
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QME Does Not Mean Other Countries Cannot Be Armed
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5. (C) Israel laid out its definition of the Qualitative
Military Edge (QME) and emphasized that it understands the
need to arm moderate Arab states. Israel sees the goal of
the QME as ensuring that if deterrence fails, Israel would
prevail quickly and with limited casualties. When assessing
the QME, Israel groups their neighbors into immediate threats
(Iran, Lebanon, Syria), Risks (Egypt, Saudi Arabia), and no
risk (other GCC countries, Jordan as a special case).
6. (C) Israel focuses on systems over platforms, with the
exception of submarines and UAVs, and analyzes synergies
between systems. They also look at geographical proximity,
transferability (particularly to non-state actors), regional
precedent, and to a lesser extent, quantity. Offensive,
self-guided weapons are the biggest threat to the QME, and
the most important areas where Israel must maintain its
advantage are air superiority, intel gathering, long-range
force projection, and Israel's ability to maneuver. Israel
is not against missile defense, for example, but believes
TEL AVIV 00001693 002 OF 003
Saudi Arabia's units should all be deployed in the east.
7. (C) Israel pointed out that it has only objected to 7 of
the last 75 requests. Israel knows it is important to arm
the moderates against Iran, but also balances that with a
realistic view of the Middle East. They underscored that
weapons often outlast alliances and regimes, that most
weapons can easily be transferred to non-state actors, and
that there is limited potential for the Gulf states to
actually counter Iran. Most of their objections regard
equipping the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), as they believe
things like rifle scopes, anti-tank missiles and UAVs are
likely to be used against Israel, and will never be used
against Hizballah. The UAVs are especially problematic
because of the robust intel sharing between the LAF and
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Israel: Civilian Nuclear Power OK, If Done Right
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8. (C) As more Middle Eastern countries are looking for
civilian nuclear power, Rood explained that the United States
is working to shape that interest positively and show
counter-examples to Iran's approach. Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain,
Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia (KSA)
all have the capacity for a civilian nuclear program, and the
United States is engaged with all of them, at various stages,
to get Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and 123
agreements, with requisite safeguards, including on spent
9. (C) The GOI explained that they support civilian nuclear
programs, but have been raising their concerns over controls
with other countries, including France, Canada, the
Netherlands, India, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and the UK.
Israel is most concerned about indigenous conversion and
online refueling. Germany, notably, did not agree. Israel
is also against additional research reactors in the region,
which the IAEA seems to encourage, pointing out that there is
enough research capacity. France and the UK both agreed.
10. (C) Israel said that the Canadians have been very
responsive regarding the proliferation risks for their
reactors and have improved their safeguards. The French told
Israel that they are willing to retake spent fuel for
reprocessing and return of waste, and may give Low-Enriched
Uranium (LEU) credits for MOX. South Korea has said that its
agreements with Westinghouse prevent them from exporting
nuclear technology. Jordan has made some unhelpful public
statements, but Israel is less concerned about them.
Israel's priority is getting involved countries to sign the
Additional Protocol. They do not think Egypt will sign the
protocol, and they say the Canadians and Chinese view it more
as a guideline.
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Israel: Egypt won't back down in First Committee
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11. (C) Israel believes the Egypt will continue to press in
the IAEA General Conference, UN First Committee, and in other
venues, for a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East,
even if it has little chance of passing. Egypt wants the
issue, they explained, more than the solution. Despite
defeats the last two years, Egypt is actually raising the bar
from what it expects and will not even discuss possible
compromises with Israel. Egypt's most recent draft is even
worse than last year's, as it does not reference the peace
process, although this may be so they can add it in as a
concession later. Israel is not sure why Egypt will no
longer accept the compromise language used from 1994-2006,
which Israel accepts.
12. (C) Under Secretary Rood pointed out that Egypt's
tactics have not worked the last two years, and vote counts
dropped. Israel emphasized that Egypt must be convinced to
accept a consensus rather than forcing a vote. Egypt will
finesse its language enough to gain more European support,
reversing the downward voting trend, and then take the higher
total as a victory. Rood agreed on the potential problem and
said the U.S. would press the Egyptians to work for a
consensus resolution.
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Other Nuclear Issues: NSG, FMCT/CD, GI, PSI, DPRK
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13. (C) Under Secretary Rood also detailed U.S. efforts on
Nuclear issues in various multilateral organizations,
including the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Conference
on Disarmament (CD), the Global Initiative (GI), and the
Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). On the NSG, Rood
explained that the USG has proposed a tight, criteria-based
approach. We also want all indigenous enrichment to take
place in a black box, with no technology transfers. Israel
added that signing, rather than just discussing the
Additional Protocol should be a requirement. Israel would
also prefer regional solutions, such as one nuclear facility
tied into the grids for several Middle East countries.
14. (C) At the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the United
States as President is pushing for the Fissile Material
Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) but Rood pointed out that our term is
running out. The USG feels the FMCT is valuable, even if
verification is impossible. Rood assured the Israelis that
the FMCT would not include existing stocks, and would not be
predicated on Israel joining before its entry into force.
15. (C) Rood described the GI as extremely positive, with
membership growing and the workshops going very well. Rood
explained that countries that lack expertise in certain areas
can host workshops on this issue as a face-saving way of
inviting experts without admitting deficiencies.
16. (C) Rood also said the PSI is successful, although we
often do not publicize successes due to regional
sensitivities. Israel added that it may want to join
Operation Active Endeavor, especially if it can be used more
actively for interdiction.
17. (C) Finally, Israel expressed its concerns regarding the
six-party talks with North Korea (DPRK). It is concerned
that there is no clear statement against proliferation and no
proliferation verification. It also thinks there are
proliferation red flags because DPRK enrichment seems further
along, the DPRK's plutonium numbers seem low, and missile
activity continues. Israel stressed that not pursuing DPRK
proliferation could embolden other proliferators. Israel
believes stopping proliferation is a more attainable goal
than stopping DPRK's nuclear program completely.
18. (U) Under Secretary Rood has cleared this cable.
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