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06SOFIA915 2006-07-03 05:09:00 SECRET Embassy Sofia
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1. (U) This is an action request. Please see paragraph 4.

2. (S) On June 29, Ivelina Bachkevanova and Christo Atanasov
of the Ministry of Energy and Economy's Export Control
Division called us in to inform us that they had received an
export application for 5000 thermobaric rounds (Model
GTB-7VS, produced by the Bulgarian manufacturer VMZ) bound
for the Yemeni Ministry of Defense. At the world market
price of approximately $750 per thermobaric RPG round, this
deal would be worth roughly $3.75m. This purchase comes in
addition to the 10 such rounds already purchased by Yemen
(reftel B). We responded by reiterating the concerns
previously delivered in reftel A demarche, specifically
emphasizing our concerns about possible diversion to
terrorist groups.

3. (S) The MOE's decision to raise this issue with us during
the export clearance process is consistent with their
previous commitment (reftel B) to take our concerns into
account prior to making any similar sales to Yemen. On a
personal level, however, our contacts appeared inclined to
allow the sale. They emphasized that no brokers were
involved, that the order originated from the Yemeni MOD, that
it was verified by the Yemeni MFA, and that the relevant
signatures had been confirmed by the Bulgarian Embassy in
Sanaa. Bachkevanova remarked that "everyone always says (the
Yemenis) divert weapons" but that she had never seen any
concrete data to back up such claims. She asked us if we
could provide more detailed information on the threat, and
promised to provide it to the Export Control Commission in
order to help them make a more informed decision. She also
assured us that this particular license application was on a
"slow track."

4. (S) ACTION REQUEST: Post requests additional information
(at the Rel/Bulgaria level) on the threat posed by corruption
and lax stockpile security in Yemen, as well as information
on the major destinations to which diverted arms are
transferred. We believe that such information may represent
our best chance of convincing the Commission to turn down the