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06ISLAMABAD6647 2006-04-17 16:38:00 SECRET Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

WITH SENATOR HAGEL, FOREIGN MINISTER KASURI PUSHES FOR CIVIL NUCLEAR TRANSFERS AND WARNS THAT A MILITARY ATTACK ON IRAN WOULD MEAN DISASTER FOR PAKISTAN

Tags:   IN IR PK PREL PTER 
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1. (S) Summary: In a meeting with Senator Hagel, Foreign
Minister Kasuri urged that the United States help Pakistan
address its civilian nuclear power needs. He argued that
"transparent mechanisms" now governing Pakistan's nuclear
program would prevent the kinds of abuses associated with AQ
Khan. Kasuri admitted that the India civ-nuc deal had been
briefed to Pakistan in advance. On relations with India,
Kasuri reported that "no major differences" remained on
Siachen and Sir Creek; Indian PM Singh was expected to visit
between July and September, and he expected an agreement
would be reached by then. He urged the U.S. to engage in a
dialogue with Iran, warning that a military attack would be a
disaster for Pakistan. As a perceived U.S. "stooge," an
attack would embarrass Pakistan in the Muslim world -- and it
would inflame sectarian tensions. Kasuri maintained that
Iran's enrichment announcement was a publicity stunt and now
that the Iranians had "declared victory," it created an
opportunity to "humor them" and convince them to go no
further. End Summary.

2. (U) Foreign Minister Kasuri briefed visiting Senator
Hagel (R-NE) on April 13 on Pakistan's perspective on nuclear
issues, India and Iran. Kasuri had participated in a
preceding meeting with President Musharraf (septel) and used
the opportunity to reinforce points made by Musharraf.

Nuclear Power


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



3. (S) Kasuri began by questioning the Civil Nuclear
Initiative's exclusive focus on India. Pakistan didn't
understand U.S. motives or why it was in U.S. interests to
entirely rule out transfers to Pakistan relating to its
civilian nuclear power needs. Pakistan would have to do
whatever it had to do; any government would act similarly.
The only consequence, from an American point of view, he
said, was that Pakistan would have to buy from someone else,
"of course, under IAEA safeguards." Why was it in the U.S.
interest to let the Chinese or some other country garner that
goodwill?

4. (S) Nor did Kasuri understand the focus on AQ Khan. Khan
had operated with virtually no oversight. There had been
suspicions that he was living beyond his means, but the
prevailing assumption had been that he was "skimming" from
program funds. The reality (that he was selling technology)
didn't emerge because Khan had been given considerable
autonomy in the days when Pakistan's program was covert. He
could order pickups and deliveries of shipments without
anyone asking questions. Kasuri said that Musharraf told him
that before 1998 the program was strictly on a need to know
basis, and even Musharraf, who was Director General of
Military Operations (DGMO) at the time was unaware of
operational details. That had changed when Pakistan declared
its program in 1998, and Pakistan had moved to "transparent
mechanisms." Kasuri argued that Khan was a lone
proliferator, explaining that of the many areas that could
have been affected, proliferation only occurred in those
areas under Khan's authority. Khan was currently under house
arrest, Kasuri added.

5. (C) Kasuri was clear that Pakistan had not been misled on
the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Initiative. "We were told about
the deal in advance," he said, however one factor that had
changed was that Pakistan was now realizing that its own need
for nuclear energy was much higher than it had previously
estimated.

6. (C) Pakistan shared U.S. anti-proliferation goals, Kasuri
said. It did not want nuclear weapons capabilities to
spread: "we are the only Moslem country and don't want anyone
else to get it."

7. (C) Senator Hagel noted that he did not speak for the
Administration or Congress, but that to his knowledge no one
was blaming President Musharraf for the AQ Khan business.
Nonetheless, Pakistan should not underestimate the damage
Khan had done. There was a deep perception in Congress that
Pakistan had behaved irresponsibly and could not be trusted,

ISLAMABAD 00006647 002 OF 003


and that perception would be difficult to overcome. Hagel
also emphasized that it was important that the U.S.-India
Civil Nuclear Initiative not be seen as marginalizing the
relationship with Pakistan, which was "a really indispensable
relationship."

India


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



8. (C) Kasuri commented that many of Pakistan's problems
were linked to relations with India, so it was very
significant that relations were improving and that both sides
were using a new vocabulary on Kashmir. Pakistan, in fact
was now doing an about face, having recognized that its
decades-long focus on international legality had not achieved
anything. Kasuri cited former Indian National Security
Advisor Dixit's statement that the sides needed to think out
of the box. Prime Minister Singh, in his recent Amritsar
speech had actually used Musharraf's language when he called
for "pragmatic and practical" solutions. The difference was
that Musharraf had begun to explain what he means. "It looks
like the sides are getting closer," Kasuri concluded, adding
that Pakistan welcomed President Bush's mention of the
Kashmir issue in Washington, New Delhi and Islamabad.

9. (C) Kasuri noted that the two sides had come a long way,
"but have resolved nothing." He remained hopeful, saying
with regard to the Siachen and Sir Creek disputes, "I have a
feeling we can resolve these." Prime Minister Singh would
likely visit Pakistan between July and September, and he
expected there would be an agreement on Siachen and Sir Creek
by then; "if not, it would be a major disappointment" because
"we have no major differences." It was important, Kasuri
added, that after all these years there should be some
definitive progress, however limited.

Iran


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



10. (C) Kasuri characterized Iran's enrichment announcement
as "ridiculous." Iran's nuclear program was launched under
the Shah -- well before Pakistan's -- and their enrichment
capabilities were "not a new thing." The announcement had
simply been a "PR stunt," and might be the end of the story
if the Iranians received appropriate attention. Kasuri
advised that the U.S. "engage with them." Iran had already
declared a victory; the United States should "humor them"
while ensuring that they go no further

11. (C) The nuclear program transcended political divisions
within Iran, Kasuri said. Former Iranian Foreign Minister
Kamal Kharrazi had told him that there were no differences on
this issue, regardless of the government in power. It was a
matter of national pride: "the Indians, the Israelis, the
Europeans, the Chinese, the Russians -- all these countries
had it."

12. (C) Kasuri reiterated that Pakistan shared the U.S.
interest in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
President Musharraf had told Secretary Rice that he did not
want Iran to acquire such a capability. But the only way out
was through dialogue. Kasuri reported that during a visit to
Pakistan, Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National
Security Council, had asked Kasuri to talk to the Americans.
Kasuri had said he would do so on one condition, that Iran's
program had to be independently verifiable.

13. (C) "We dread military action," Kasuri continued.
Pakistan's nightmare scenario would be a U.S. attack, because
Pakistan was seen as an American "stooge" and would be
targeted by Iran for destabilizing activities -- along with
Iraq and Afghanistan. A military attack would be Pakistan's
"worst nightmare, an ultimate disaster." Apart from the
threat to political stability, the effect on oil prices could
be catastrophic for Pakistan. "Don't scare the American
people into feeling that America has to react militarily," he
concluded, "instead, engage them. This is nothing new."

April 11 Karachi Bombing


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




ISLAMABAD 00006647 003 OF 003


14. (C) Kasuri noted that one reason Pakistan dreads any
military action against Iran is that Shias are am important
domestic constituency, accounting for 10-15 percent of the
population. The recent attack in Karachi illustrated a
dangerous recent trend in sectarian violence. There had been
sectarian tension for 200 years, but of a different kind.
The current strain of violence dated from the mid 1980s. An
attack on Iran would be widely viewed in Pakistan as "yet
another American attack on an Islamic country," but the
reaction would be particularly violent among Shias. "And we
are on Iran's border," Kasuri added.

15. (C) Although the victims of the Karachi bombing were
virtually all Sunnis, Kasuri said he didn't think Iran was
behind the attack. He speculated that the perpetrators could
have been from an extremist Sunni group opposed to the brand
of "soft, Sufi Islam" espoused by the victims. Kasuri
explained that the Sunni Tehrik group, whose leadership was
decimated in the attack, had been "brought to combat the
influence of outsiders" and to "reestablish the South Asian
identity" of Islam in Pakistan.

16. (U) Codel did not have an opportunity to clear this
cable.

CROCKER