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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06TELAVIV688 2006-02-15 15:57:00 SECRET Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

IRAN-IAEA: ISRAELI ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION

Tags:   PREL PINR MNUC KNNP IR EU AORC IS GOI EXTERNAL 
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151557Z Feb 06
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 06 TEL AVIV 000688 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/IPA (MAHER), NP/RA (ODLUM)
PENTAGON FOR OSD ISRAEL DESK OFFICER (ANDERSON)
DOE FOR NNSA DIRECTOR AMB. BROOKS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/14/2016
TAGS: PREL PINR MNUC KNNP IR EU AORC IS GOI EXTERNAL
SUBJECT: IRAN-IAEA: ISRAELI ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION
REVIEWS ISRAEL'S DISCUSSIONS WITH RUSSIANS

REF: STATE 19516

Classified By: Ambassador Richard H. Jones. Reasons: 1.4 (b, d)

-------
SUMMARY
-------



1. (S) In a February 7 meeting, Israeli Atomic Energy
Commission (IAEC) Director General Gideon Frank told
Ambassador Jones the following:

A) On February 16, the EU3 MFA directors general are going to
meet with an Israeli interagency team in Israel at the MFA to
discuss Iran and the way ahead.

B) Based on his January 17-18 visit to Moscow, Frank believes
the Russians are coming to a tougher position on Iran, closer
to that of the U.S. and the EU3. Russia's proposal to assist
Iran with civilian nuclear energy is meant to be an incentive
to encourage Iran to re-engage the EU3, and is not a
stand-alone proposal.

C) Russia and Israel believe that it could take Iran as few
as six months to master the full centrifuge cascade once it
starts research and development. Israel believes that Iran
must not be allowed, under any deal, to conduct such research
and development.

D) Israel is satisfied with Russia's current position on
Bushehr and its willingness to resume safeguards discussions
with the Iranians. Russian plans to inform Iran by the end
of the month that, because of "technical problems," it must
postpone completion of Bushehr until mid-2007, and will not
send fresh reactor fuel until then. Russia will lose
considerable money because of this, and Israel believes
consideration must be given to economic incentives for Russia
that will keep it "on board" with respect to Iran.

E) As Israel understands it, Russia's proposal to Iran
envisions joint ownership, no Iranian access to technology,
and the construction of an entire enrichment facility.
Israel believes the Iranians should not be allowed to convert
past UF-4. If they must convert to UF-6, it should be done
in Russia. The Russians believe that Iran should use its own
(limited) uranium stocks, an idea which Israel favors.
However, if Iran balks and Russia withdraws its proposal,
South Africa may step in.

F) Israel is concerned that Iran may ultimately profit by
violating its nuclear safety agreements, and that this will
set a bad precedent internationally. Israel believes that
Iran must be forced to suspend enrichment before proceeding
with the Russian proposal or any other proposal to help Iran
with civilian nuclear energy.

G) Russia believes Iran should be given some time to consider
its current situation before it is forced to make a choice.
Israel believes the international community should continue
to apply pressure on Iran, and that the current level of
pressure is insufficient considering Iran's attitudes and
actions. Israel believes the Europeans and others need to be
encouraged to consider "soft" sanctions or "pre-sanctions"
against Iran that would stand a better chance of being
accepted in the UNSC than traditional economic sanctions.

H) Israel believes the IAEA is incapable of safeguarding
facilities that produce the technology used in centrifuge
production facilities. The IAEA may also have difficulty
detecting a clandestine program if Iran declares an overt
program. Pressure needs to be stepped up on IAEA DG
ElBaradei so that his end-of-February report draws all the
necessary conclusions and is clear and comprehensive. A
"layman's guide" to reading the report may be helpful.

I) Israel is concerned that, despite the USG's best efforts,
Egypt has advanced its position on a Middle East Nuclear
Weapons Free Zone in the IAEA Board's latest resolution on
Iran. Israel will look to the U.S. to keep upcoming UN
discussions on the Iranian nuclear program focused solely on
Iran.



2. (U) Ambassador Jones provided Frank reftel talking points
and President Bush's and Secretary Rice's statements
concerning Iran's referral to the UNSC, noting that they had
also been delivered to the Israeli MFA and MOD. END SUMMARY.


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



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


ISRAELIS SEE RUSSIAN POSITION ON IRAN GETTING TOUGHER


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



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




3. (S) Frank said the purpose of his January 17-18 visit to
Moscow was to try to understand Russia's opposition to taking
a harder stand on Iran, and to influence Russia in the right
direction. Frank's interagency delegation met with ROSATOM
Head Kiriyenko, Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov and his staff,
Foreign Minister Lavrov, and Deputy Foreign Minister Kislyak.
Frank said the meeting with Lavrov was more formal than the
other meetings but interesting nonetheless. Frank said that
his first meeting with Kiriyenko went well and that he is
"anxious" to develop a relationship with Kiriyenko:
Kiriyenko seemed quite open and very alert and not afraid to
ask questions. He appeared to be in learning mode but also
quite knowledgeable, and open to the Israeli position. He
said the Russians were very forthcoming and accommodating to
the Israelis. They accepted the Israeli delegation on very
short notice. Frank said the Russian line is getting
tougher. He also said, "The Kremlin is sweating. There are
those who fear a confrontation with Iran. And then there are
those who fear a nuclear Iran." He claimed that the Iranians
have threatened the Russians that they can raise havoc in
Chechnya. Frank assessed that Kiriyenko and Ivanov
(representing the Russian Presidency) seem to be closer to
the Israeli position than Kislyak (representing the MFA).



4. (S) According to Frank, Kiriyenko said, barring
complications, that it could take the Iranians as few as six
months from the moment research and development begin to
master the full cascade. This surprised the Israelis
because, according to Frank, it corresponds with the Israeli
view. Frank noted that when German Chancellor Angela Merkel
recently visited Israel, she told the Israelis that Putin
seems to be more responsive on the Iran nuclear issue. He
characterized the Russians as "more transparent" than they
have been on the Iran issue, and wondered aloud whether such
an open dialogue could be sustained.



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



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


FRANK SUGGESTS RUSSIANS PUTTING BRAKES ON BUSHEHR


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



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





5. (S) On Russia's cooperation with Iran on the research
reactor at Bushehr, Frank said the following:

A) Israel believes Russia will maintain its commitment and is
ready to resume talks on safeguards at Bushehr. Kiriyenko
said that he is willing to have his experts meet with Israeli
experts to further define additional safeguards that Russia
could ask the Iranians to apply at Bushehr. Israel wants to
discuss with the Russians more about Russia's policy with
respect to Bushehr, rather than about technical matters.

B) According to Frank, the Russians said they introduced
changes to the hardware in the contract they have with Iran
on Bushehr. (NOTE: Frank did not supply any details. END
NOTE.)

C) Kiriyenko said that Russia will postpone completion of the
Bushehr reaction until the middle of 2007, and that it will
not send fresh fuel until then. Frank said that this is
extremely important to Israel. Kiriyenko told the Israeli
delegation that the Russians will blame the delay on
"technical problems" when they raise this with the Iranians
so that the Iranians will not be in a position to complain.
Frank said that the Iranians have not yet heard about this
delay, and that they will hear about it from Kiriyenko when
he travels to Iran at the end of February. Kiriyenko told
Frank that Putin himself is ordering this delay. Frank
estimates that the Russians are going to lose at least USD 50
million as a result of the delay. (He attributed this to
losses associated with the front load of fuel.)

D) Rumantsyev said Russia has formally committed to not
assisting Iran on the fuel cycle and will take back spent
fuel.



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


FRANK'S VIEW OF THE RUSSIAN PROPOSAL


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




6. (S) Frank, who reports directly to the Israeli Prime
Minister on the Iran nuclear issue, said the following about
how Israel views the Russian proposal to assist Iran with
civilian nuclear energy:

A) The Russians said repeatedly during their January 17-18
meetings with the Israelis that no details have been worked
out yet because (at that time) the Iranians had said they
were not interested in Russia's proposal. The Israelis
understand the proposal to include joint ownership, no
Iranian access to technology, and to comprise a whole
enrichment facility.

B) The problem with UCF conversion is not well defined
regarding the stage to which the Iranians should be allowed
to convert. Israel believes that the Iranians at most should
be allowed to convert to UF-4, and definitely not UF-6. In
Israel's view, if the Iranians are allowed to manufacture
UF-6, their potential to fuel a clandestine program increases.

C) Israel wants UF-6 conversion itself to take place in
Russia if the proposal is to be carried out. If conversion
must take place in Iran, this is acceptable, but only under
certain conditions. Frank explained that a UCF conversion
plant itself is very hard to safeguard and, in Israel's view,
the IAEA is not prepared for full safeguards. It would be
easy to divert fuel. It is also the highest visibility part
of the program. In the end, for Israel, it is worthwhile to
insist on UF-4 as the limit for conversion in Iran.

D) Ivanov said that Iran's limited domestic uranium reserves
should be used. The Israelis like this because it means Iran
burns up its uranium supply.

E) Israel still has a problem with the Russian proposal for
political reasons. As the Israelis see it, the Iranians end
up getting something (e.g., operating a conversion plant) by
violating their agreements. This, In Israel's view, does not
set a good precedent.

F) South Africa could help Iran with commercial fuel if
Russia decided to pull out. Frank said that South African
MFA DG Abdul Minty has indicated that South Africa is eager
to jump in with a commercial deal involving conversion and
buy-back. This deal includes South African uranium for
conversion in Iran. The South Africans would supply the
uranium. The Iranians would fully operate a UCF, and then
the UCF-6 would go back to South Africa. Frank said Israel
is anxious about this prospect because Libya's nuclear
weapons program reportedly involved South Africans, and
Israel fears that South Africa would be willing to help Iran
covertly, just as it reportedly assisted Libya. Frank
admitted that Israel is "fuzzy on the details," and added
that while Minty believes he speaks for South Africa, Frank
is not sure the South African president would agree with
Minty's proposal.

G) Asking that we strictly protect this information, Frank
said that the Iranians have a 70-ton stockpile of Chinese
UF-6 purchased years ago which is more than Iran needs for
research and development. He said that Iran acquired it in
the early 1990s before China joined the NPT. Frank claimed
that Iran has approached China to see if it would fill in for
Russia if Russia withdrew its proposal. He claimed that the
Chinese did NOT/NOT respond enthusiastically.

H) Israel believes Iran does not need much more than it
already has in terms of centrifuge expertise, and that it
would not be difficult to get what it needs, should the
Russians decide to withdraw their proposal. According to
Frank, "They have almost all the parts. If they do not get
what they need from Russia, they will get it elsewhere."



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

---
FRANK ON THE WAY AHEAD WITH THE RUSSIAN PROPOSAL


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

---



7. (S) Frank said that the biggest problem facing the
international community is how to prevent Iran from gaining
as a result of violating its nuclear safety agreements.
"This," he said, "could cause serious harm to the NPT."
Frank recounted that he told the Russians in mid-January that
now is not the time for negotiations with Iran. Iran must
fully re-suspend its activities first. According to Frank,
Ivanov and Kislyak made it clear that the Russian proposal is
only an incentive to help the EU negotiate. It is not a
stand-alone proposal. Frank said the Israelis interpret this
to mean that the Russians are going to require the Iranians
to suspend enrichment before proceeding on the proposal.



8. (S) Frank stressed that Iran must NOT/NOT be allowed to
conduct research and development on enrichment and warned
that if this were allowed, it would lead to a series of
gradual violations and kick off "the beginning of the end."
He warned that, aside from the political ramifications,
research and development would help Iran to remove the
obstacles to mastering the conversion technology. Frank
suggested that the Iranians are not far away from this anyway.



9. (S) Frank said that Iran's current constraint is mastery
of the technology for operating a centrifuge cascade. Once
the Iranians master the technology of a full cascade, it
means they can start industrial-sized operations. Frank
suggested that the Iranians would run into problems, but
observed that even the loss of 10-20 percent of their
centrifuges would be acceptable to them. He noted that
commercially, such a loss would be considered a disaster, but
stressed that the Iranians do not care about this. "They
are," he said, "running a crash program to acquire a
capability." Frank said that within one year, Iran's rate of
production will depend on its decision: If Iran wants more,
it will get it. After a year, Iran could have its first 25
kilos of U-235.



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



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


FRANK COMPARING THE RUSSIAN AND ISRAELI POSITIONS


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



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





10. (S) Frank said that in the current situation, and
considering the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA)
"weaknesses," Israel believes it would be better NOT to have
a conversion facility in Iran at all, and that Russia agrees.
He added that there appears to be no difference between the
Israeli and Russian positions on:

A) recognizing the risks of allowing the Iranians some sort
of nuclear program;

B) the objective of what that nuclear program would be; and

C) the need, now, to do something concrete to address the
current threat.



11. (S) Frank said that the big difference between the
Israeli and Russian positions is on "what to do." According
to Frank, the Russians pointed out that all the people
dealing with the nuclear issue in Iran are now new. They are
feeding the supreme leader all his information, including on
options. According to Frank, the Russians believe it is best
to allow these new people some time to "digest" the current
situation and consider the possible consequences. This will
give them time to provide sound options to the supreme
leader. Frank said that the Russians feel that if the West
pushes these new people too hard and fast now, they will
react negatively and advise the Supreme Leader poorly,
resulting in the Iranians making decisions that are
disadvantageous to the West. Frank made it clear that Israel
disagrees with this view, and believes that Iran is
susceptible to pressure. He said that the current reaction
by the West is "too small and too slow." He added, "We know
Iran is moving elements of its program right now. It has
gone beyond the breaking of the seals. Yet, there is no
reaction."



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



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


DISCUSSION ON INCENTIVES TO KEEP THE RUSSIANS ON BOARD


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



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





12. (S) Frank and the Ambassador exchanged views on whether
the international community could compensate Russia for its
losses associated with keeping Bushehr at its current state.
Frank promised to give the USG more information on what kind
of economic incentives might be considered to keep Russia on
board with respect to Bushehr.



13. (S) IAEC Deputy DG Ariel Levite suggested that the
southern supergovernors in Russia influence considerably the
Russian position on the Iran nuclear threat. He suggested
that there is one in particular that has direct access to
Putin, and said that this supergovernor "cries foul" and
urges Putin to "go slow" in confronting Iran. (NOTE: Levite
did not identify the supergovernor or which region he comes
from. END NOTE.)


14. (S) Frank said that the key question is whether the
Russians will agree to applying stronger measures against
Iran. He wondered aloud what would trigger Russia to react,
and observed that if the Russians begin to negotiate with the
Iranians. It will be necessary to ensure that the Russians
do not "give up the store."



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


FRANK ON THE IAEA'S WEAKNESSES


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





15. (S) On the IAEA, Frank made the following comments:

A) The IAEA is not effectively safeguarding the technology
that can be used in centrifuge production facilities.
Factories producing the kind of parts that can be used in
centrifuge production facilities are "all over the place" in
Iran. Most of these factories are in defense facilities
where the IAEA is denied access. Furthermore, the IAEA does
not have the resources to monitor the suspension of the
production of centrifuges.

B) It might be harder for the IAEA to detect a clandestine
enrichment or conversion project, if the Iranians declare an
overt project because legitimate enriched uranium traces
would mask over the traces that would be left by a
clandestine project. A clandestine project would also not
have to be housed in a single, large facility. It could be
broken down into smaller facilities and spread out, per what
he termed the Libyan model.

C) Israel sees IAEA DG ElBaradei as a negative figure who
keeps trying to circumvent the problem Iran poses, instead of
taking it head on. The IAEA's next report on Iran is due at
the end of February. If done properly, this report could
help to mobilize more members to act more resolutely on Iran.
The materials and information that the IAEA has are
incriminating. The question, for Israel, is whether
ElBaradei will act correctly. Israel believes that Israel,
the U.S. and like-minded countries need to increase the
pressure on DG ElBaradei to make his report as clear and
comprehensive as possible.

D) Israel wonders whether the IAEA's in-house clearance
process will "affect" the outcome of the February report.
Will the connection with the military program be blurred? In
Israel's view, it is all there, but it needs to be made
explicit. What may be needed is a "layman's guide" on how to
read the report, so that the right connections are made. In
a general sense, Frank agreed that the report was more
important for "what it did not say." Frank explained that,
in the past, reports have included all the information that
needed to be included, but that there was no executive
summary to draw the connections between the information. In
these cases, most of the diplomats in Vienna were not able to
correctly process the information and come to the right
conclusions.

E) Israel believes that the U.S. could help other diplomats
understand the IAEA's reports correctly. The Indians told
IAEC staff member Merav Zafary recently that they do not have
the information they need to justify a stronger position on
Iran to the Indian public and their own political left.
Frank and Levite complained that Norway is not being helpful
at the IAEA, but they did not elaborate.



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



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


FRANK ON EUROPEAN ATTITUDES RE: THE UNSC, SANCTIONS


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



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





16. (S) Frank said that it is clear to Israel that it will
take a long time before sanctions can be discussed in the
UNSC. He urged the U.S. to try to get other countries to
consider "pre-sanctions" or "soft" sanctions that will
probably have more of an impact on Iran that traditional
sanctions. Israel has in mind preventing the Iranian
national soccer team from attending certain international
events, or having European capitals deny landing to Iran's
national airlines. Another idea would be to warn investors
of the risks of doing business in Iran. Israel has already
discussed these ideas with some Europeans. According to
Frank, the French have said that they see merit behind these
ideas, and have agreed to warn investors. Frank said that
Germany has been more of a "stumbling block," but claimed
that Chancellor Merkel had promised the GOI that she would
"have her people work on it." Frank warned that the Italians
feel insulted for not being consulted on these matters to
date and will require some real work to get them to come
around.



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



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


FRANK ON EGYPT'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS FREE ZONE PUSH IN THE UN


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



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





17. (S) Frank said that Israel is truly grateful for the U.S.
effort on the language in the IAEA's latest resolution
reporting Iran to the UNSC, but "Despite America's best
efforts, the Egyptians have obviously scored with the
reference in the Board of Governors' resolution to 'a Middle
East free of WMD.'" He said that the Egyptians have a game
plan for taking the Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) forward,
and that there is "no way" that the UNSC can address Iran
without touching on this issue. Frank said that the U.S. and
Israel will have to watch this and work together closely, as
any such linkage could block any positive move on Iran. He
urged the U.S. to help Israel by keeping the UN's discussion
of Iran's nuclear program focused on Iran.



18. (C) Apart from IAEC DG Gideon Frank and Ambassador Jones,
the meeting was also attended on the U.S. side by the DCM and
the embassy's POL-MIL officer; and on the IAEC side by Deputy
DG Ariel Levite and staff members Merav Zafary and Gil Reich.

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