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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
02TEGUCIGALPA3350
2002-12-12 20:28:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Tegucigalpa
Cable title:  

CERRO LA MOLE RADAR--STILL AN UNREQUITED PACT

Tags:  PREL PGOV MASS MARR HO 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TEGUCIGALPA 003350 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR D, T, PM, WHA/PPC, WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/13/2012
TAGS: PREL PGOV MASS MARR HO
SUBJECT: CERRO LA MOLE RADAR--STILL AN UNREQUITED PACT

REF: TEGUCIGALPA 01780

Classified By: PolChief Francisco Palmieri, Reasons 1.5(b) and (d).



1. (U) SUMMARY: Post reiterates the U.S. national interests
in fulfilling its obligations under the 1993 agreement with
the GOH regarding the maintenance of the radar located at
Cerro La Mole. The U.S. agreed to pay 75% of all maintenance
costs up to a limit of $400,000 per year, while the GOH
agreed to pay 25% of the maintenance costs. To date, the
U.S. has paid nothing under the agreement, while the GOH has
paid for all maintenance costs in excess of $800,000. Post
recommends that the U.S. honor the spirit of the agreement by
either replacing it with a TPS-78 solid state version or with
another TPS-70, or repair the existing one. In the wake of
the rapid Honduran accession to an Article 98 agreement, the
ongoing failure of the U.S. to fulfill its legal obligations
under the agreement is creating doubt about the U.S.'s
commitment to international agreements at the very time we
are urging further Honduran cooperation. END SUMMARY.



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


THE AGREEMENT


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





2. (U) In 1993 the U.S. and the GOH signed a Memorandum of
Understanding for the Expansion of the Radar Located in Cerro
La Mole in the Caribbean Basin Radar Network (MOU). The
purpose of the MOU was to reaffirm the cooperation of the two
governments in the international battle against narcotics
trafficking by expanding the radar capability of the region
as set forth in the Caribbean Basin Radar Network agreement
(CBRN) signed by the U.S. and the GOH April 7, 1989. The MOU
was designed to integrate the Cerro La Mole radar ("the
radar") into the operations of the CBRN.



3. (U) The core provisions that are relevant to this
recommendation are as follows (NOTE: A more complete summary
of the core provisions of the MOU are found in Ref A. END
NOTE.):

-The costs of operations and maintenance of the radar are to
be borne by the GOH.

-The U.S. will have unrestricted access to the data from the
radar except in the case of a Honduran national emergency.

-The U.S. will provide spare parts support and technical
assistance valued at a maximum of $400,000 per year, with the
GOH responsible for no less than 25 percent of the total
spare parts/technical assistance costs each year.

-The MOU is effective until April 7, 2009.



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


THE PROBLEMS OF NON-COMPLIANCE


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





4. (C) There are a number of emerging diplomatic problems
due to the U.S.'s failure to comply with the MOU. The U.S.
has paid nothing under the terms of the MOU, while the GOH
has paid more than $800,000 in an attempt to maintain the
radar. This is a source of tension between the Honduran
Armed Forces (HOAF) and the U.S. military personnel stationed
in Honduras. Moreover, the situation has become a diplomatic
problem. We understand that President Maduro had considered
raising it during the postponed visit of Secretary Powell in
October. Ref A outlines the effects of the strained
relations that U.S. non-compliance has caused. It is
difficult to ignore the GOH's argument that the agreement was
entered into between two sovereign nations, and that the U.S.
has a legal and moral obligation to abide by its terms.



5. (C) The GOH is also raising the ante over the issue of
non-compliance. Political and military relations are
becoming more and more bogged down with discussions about the
future of the MOU. In a recent meeting between Ambassador
Palmer and Minister of Defense Fred Breve (MOD), when the
Ambassador discussed U.S. security assistance concerns, the
MOD responded by mentioning the U.S. failure to comply with
the MOU. During the Conference of the Chiefs of the American
Air Forces, Colonel Ramos (Commander of the Honduran Air
Force), pressed General Jumper (Chief of Staff, U.S. Air
Force) for his support. All political and military VIPs that
visit Honduras must field questions about our non-compliance.
MOD Breve raised it with WHA A/S Reich in August when the
A/S visited Honduras. The situation has become increasingly
embarrassing for post and actually hampers productivity due
to the amount of time all mission military elements must
spend responding to HOAF questions. Compliance with the MOU
would permit all country team elements to focus on more
important U.S. interests and priorities in Honduras, such as
working on counterterrorism and counterdrug training for the
HOAF, obtaining MOD support for counterterrorism treaties
languishing in Congress and designation of a GOH
counterterrorism coordinator.



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


APPRECIATION FOR ARTICLE 98


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





6. (C) The GOH recently signed an Article 98 agreement,
despite pressure from other Latin American countries to
decline. Honduras was the first Central American country to
sign Article 98, and the Hondurans remain staunch supporters.
Post believes that the GOH should receive a tangible sign of
U.S. appreciation for signing the Article 98 agreement. At
the recent USSOUTHCOM Security Assistance Conference (MILGP
Commanders' Conference), Brigadier General Vincent Brooks,
Deputy Director, Pol Mil Affairs, WHEM, from Joint Staff J-5
stated that our new approach would be the "carrot and the
stick"--in other words, the U.S. will help those countries
that sign Article 98 agreements and cut aid to those that do
not. The radar issue is the U.S.'s chance to demonstrate
that we will assist countries that support us on Article 98.
At the same conference, representatives from State and
Defense stated that U.S. interests are best served when each
country can best protect its own sovereignty. The radar at
Cerro La Mole would enable Honduras to become a "full
partner" in the counterdrug and counterterrorism fights,
better protect its own sovereignty and allow for more
complete control of its airspace.



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

---
SUPPORT FOR COUNTERDRUG/COUNTERTERRORISM EFFORTS


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

---



7. (U) More and more frequently, Honduran waters and air
space are used by narcotraffickers for transshipment of drugs
from Colombia to the U.S. and of illegal arms back to
Colombia. Stopping this flow of arms to Colombian terrorist
groups is a direct and measurable contribution to the global
war on terrorism. The U.S. regularly asks the GOH to assist
in the war against drugs. The GOH has made a number of
strides in its counterdrug operations. The Honduran Air
Force has begun to fly intercept missions, and maintains two
F-5s on fifteen-minute alert to scramble on counterdrug
flights. Additionally, the Honduran Navy has returned at
least two patrol vessels to deep water service on the north
coast. Honduras continues to grow as a transshipment zone
for illicit drugs, and the National Police are now having
some success in interdicting overland shipments. An
operational TPS-70 at Cerro La Mole would allow the GOH to
become more fully engaged in regional counterdrug efforts,
since it would give Honduras the ability to track and pass
information to other governments in the region. Drug
traffickers are increasingly exploiting the known hole in the
Cental American radar network to fly through the Cerro La
Mole radar coverage of the Honduras-Nicaragua-El Salvador
border areas.



8. (U) Currently, the TPS-70 is non-operational and,
therefore, provides no intelligence directly to the U.S. It
is part of SOUTHCOM's radar architecture, meaning it is tied
directly into our radar network. A functional radar system
at Cerro La Mole would directly provide the U.S. a much
better view of Central America's illicit flights
(specifically, it would provide the U.S. with a means to
differentiate between friendly and unfriendly tracks provided
by the Relocatable Over the Horizon Radar (ROTHR)
system)--thus, buttresses the U.S. in its war against drugs.



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


REGIONAL STABILITY


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





9. (U) U.S. compliance with the MOU would ultimately
translate into increased regional stability by providing
Honduras with an increased capability for maintaining its
sovereignty. Due to the geographical coverage of the radar,
it would provide advance warning of aggression against
Honduras, and thus provide a strong (yet peaceful) deterrent
to hostile military actions. This would serve to reduce
misunderstandings between the Central American countries. It
would also enhance identification of illicit flights skirting
the Honduras-Nicaragua-El Salvador border areas. This has
become a serious problem because none of the three countries
can encroach on a 10-mile buffer zone along the borders under
terms of multi-national agreements. A functioning TPS-70 may
lead to agreements among the three countries for better
cooperation in the buffer zones.



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


HOAF EXPENDITURES


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





10. (SBU) During the last nine years, the GOH has spent more
than $800,000 to maintain the radar, but has lost the battle
in keeping it operational.



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


ANSWERS TO OPPOSING ARGUMENTS


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





11. (C) There is stated DOD/SOLIC opposition to support for
this radar. This mission contends the following--the
Hondurans are paying their fair share (paragraphs 4 and 10);
and, Cerro La Mole is now needed to improve radar collection
on a growing number of illicit drug flights that exploit the
Honduras-Nicaragua-El Salvador window (paragraphs 7 and 9).



12. (C) We ask DOD/SOLIC to reconsider its previous position
and find a way to identify funds for this radar. It is not
just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do to
advance multiple U.S. interests in Central America.



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


POST'S RECOMMENDATION


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





13. (C) Post recommends that the U.S. should immediately
begin honoring the MOU by either replacing the radar with a
solid state version (TPS-78) or with another TPS-70
transferred from counterdrug programs. This should be done
because we agreed to do so, to support counternarcotics
efforts in the region, and as a tangible sign of U.S.
appreciation to Honduras for its prompt signing of Article 98
(the first in Central America).



14. (C) In the alternative, the U.S. could repair the radar
to operational status. However, the radar is an older
300-series radar, and this approach may not be cost
effective. Cost of replacement or repairs should be
evaluated to determine the most economical solution.
Moreover, post recommends that, pursuant to the MOU, the
radar be left in the control of the GOH, with all outputs
made available to the U.S.
PIERCE