|06RABAT115||2006-01-24 14:48:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Rabat|
1. (C) Summary: Deputy FM Taieb Fassi Fihri told the
Ambassador January 19 that Iranian Envoy Musavi would visit
Morocco January 20 but would not be received by the King.
Morocco would listen to Musavi but would express concern over
Iranian behavior and warn Iran not to take advantage of
turmoil in the Middle East to "pour oil on the fire."
Morocco worried that Iran's behavior would undermine IAEA
progress to promote non-proliferation, with negative
consequences for Morocco's peaceful nuclear program. Fassi
Fihri also drew attention to worrisome solidarity between
Iran and Algeria. Fassi Fihri said Iran's Ambassador to
Morocco was being ostracized after mischaracterizing in the
press a recent meeting with Fassi Fihri and would not be
received at the MFA at a senior level "for a long time." End
2. (C) During a one-hour meeting January 19 to discuss UN
reform (septel) and Iran as requested reftels, and also
touching on Western Sahara (septel), Deputy Foreign Minister
Taieb Fassi Fihri told the Ambassador that Iranian Vice
President in Charge of Parliamentary Affairs and Special
Envoy Musavi would be visiting Morocco the following day,
January 20. Fassi Fihri explained that Musavi was visiting
the region in the context of the current crisis with Iran
over its nuclear program.
3. (C) Fassi Fihri said that the King had decided against
receiving Musavi; PM Jettou would see him instead. (Note:
Jettou did meet with Musavi on January 20, but there has been
little discussion thus far in the press about the visit
beyond factual reporting. We understand that Musavi also met
with the heads of the upper and lower houses of parliament).
Fassi Fihri stressed that Morocco's position on nuclear
development was clear: if research and development were for
peaceful purposes, and aimed to benefit the people, then
Morocco generally supported nuclear development. Indeed, the
cost of producing energy from other sources dictated that
Morocco explore nuclear energy as well.
Concern with Algeria
4. (C) Morocco was nevertheless concerned about Algerian
support for Iran. Fassi Fihri said he was "surprised" by the
apparent degree of solidarity between Algeria and Iran.
Morocco was struck by President Bouteflika's remarks two
months ago that Algeria must develop a nuclear program, even
while Algeria already produces oil and gas. On top of that,
Algeria had signed another deal with Russia two days earlier
to buy MIGs -- a new contract, beyond what the Algerians
bought last year, for the latest model MIG fighter jets.
Morocco's Nuclear Program
5. (C) Ambassador noted that he had visited Morocco's
nuclear research reactor at the GOM's National Center for
Energy, Science, and Nuclear Techniques (CNESTEN) earlier in
the day. The Ambassador noted that US contractors had been
involved in the construction of the plant (it is not yet
operating), that the level of CNESTEN's industrial research
was advanced, and that the training opportunities for the
region were substantial. He noted the high level of English
proficiency among the staff. Fassi Fihri added that
CNESTEN's human resources were top-notch.
6. (C) The Ambassador said he had asked the Director of
CNESTEN informally what he thought of Iran's nuclear program.
The Director had said there was no justification to develop
a nuclear program if a country already had oil, and there was
no technical reason for Iran to want to do nuclear research.
7. (C) Fassi Fihri said that if Iran continued to develop a
nuclear program, it would disrupt all the efforts and
progress the IAEA had made in recent years to promote
non-proliferation. As a developing country Morocco would be
among those to pay for Iran's actions. Morocco's goal was to
cooperate with the IAEA, implement the relevant treaties and
sign the appropriate international protocols. Iran
threatened to stop the IAEA's progress, and technical
assistance to countries like Morocco could be reduced.
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8. (C) Fassi Fihri said the GOM would "listen" to Musavi,
but would also express its concern to him about Iranian
behavior. Fassi Fihri noted that Morocco would become a
member of the IAEA council of governors at the next meeting
Iran Exploiting Turmoil
9. (C) Fassi Fihri continued that Moroccan concern with Iran
extended to the political level as well, where Iran insisted
that since Israel had nuclear power, Iran should as well.
Iran's cry that "no one can impose on us" was partly a way of
exploiting the situation in Iraq. Iran was counting on the
fact that the US was overextended in the Middle East and
would not be able to hold a tough line against Iran. Iran
was in the meantime building links with the Shia of Iraq.
Fassi Fihri noted that the US appeared to want to manage Iran
in the UN context, and Ambassador Bolton had made that clear.
10. (C) Fassi Fihri said the GOM would tell Musavi very
clearly that the situation was already too explosive in the
Middle East, and the region could not afford another crisis.
In addition to Iraq, there were upcoming elections for
Palestinians and Iraqis. Another crisis instigated by Iran
would be putting "oil on the fire."
Iranian Ambassador in the GOM Dog House
11. (C) Fassi Fihri said he had met Iranian Ambassador
Masjed Jamee for the first time three weeks ago. He had
convoked the ambassador in part after receiving some signals
from American Jewish groups concerned about Ahmedinejad's
remarks about Israel. Fassi Fihri told Masjed Jamee that
Morocco and Iran do not share the same views on Middle East
peace. Masjed Jamee subsequently made a statement to the
press, picked up in Algeria, that he had explored with Fassi
Fihri how to enhance dialogue between Iran and Morocco in
light of their "same positions" on the Middle East (Note:
The Morocco Times on December 27 also did a story on the
meeting, noting that Fassi Fihri himself said Morocco is keen
on enhancing ties with Islamic countries, particularly Iran,
and would prepare the ground for exchanges in the political,
cultural, and economic fields. End Note). Fassi Fihri said
Masjed Jamee had no right to publish anything concerning the
meeting with Fassi Fihri, let alone to distort what had been
said. As a result, Fassi Fihri had issued instructions that
Masjed Jamee would be received by MFA Director of Arab and
Islamic Affairs Azeroual and not anyone more senior "for a
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