|07BRUSSELS3423||2007-11-29 20:25:00||CONFIDENTIAL||USEU Brussels|
1.(C/NF) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: The EU is moving toward deferrment of decisions on new restrictive measures against Iran until January 2008. The UKREP (protect) noted that the broader EU membership does not share the British and French sense of urgency about the need for new sanctions. Our own discussions with several EU member states' Ambassadors as well as third country contacts confirms the UK's assessment. At least here in Brussels, Kosovo is sucking up every ounce of urgency. Even those who are supportive in principle of new Iran sanctions are not focused on the need to act now. Moreover, the French and the Brits fear that in the absence of any UNSC outcome on Iran or clear political mandate from EU leaders, the member states could agree to designate only the most minor actors. In the UK's view, such a weak decision would be worse than no decision at all. Consequently, the UKREP is working on an agreement with France and Germany to prepare for an EU decision for meaningful sanctions in January. The Brits also indicated that they would seek a negative political statement on Iran and new sanctions mandate by EU leaders at the European Council meeting on December 14. In order to help increase political momentum for EU sanctions, the UKREP also suggested that we directly engage EU member state counterparts at the highest possible levels about the need for immediate EU action. Moreover, the UK PSC Ambassador, as well as two senior advisors to Solana said that member states want more evidence to support the case for designating Bank Melli under existing authorities. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT
Repeated Call for More Evidence
2.(C/NF) During a November 28 meeting with Robert Cooper, High Rep Solana's deputy on Iran policy, DCM Murray underscored the need for new EU economic restrictions against Iran as well as additional designations under existing authorities. Cooper was more downbeat than in the past on the prospects for new EU designations, reiterating his earlier comments to USG officials (REF B) on the need to supply evidence in the forthcoming EU debate. Cooper, who was joined by Annalisa Gianella, Solana's Special Representative for Non-Proliferation, indicated that EU member states need for clear-cut evidence of wrong-doing was linked to their interest in avoiding European court challenges to EU designations. In any future cases of court challenge, Cooper though that the European Court of Justice would not ask to see evidence per se, but would request testimony from EU and/or government officials. During a separate meeting with Polmincouns, UK PSC Ambassador Julian King confirmed that Cooper's comments about evidence related to possible designation of Bank Melli. Italian and German were exerting considerable pressure on the Council Secretariat to oppose designation of Bank Melli. King also SIPDIS anticipated resistance from some Member States to the designation of Bank Sadarat, especially in the absence of evidence directly linking it to support for WMD proliferation.
No Clear Outcome Expected from EU Debate
3. (C/NF) Cooper anticipated that the November 30 meeting of EU capital-based experts would be inconclusive. The group would likely conduct a "status-neutral" debate of a Council Secretariat-prepared options paper on new sanctions, but SIPDIS refrain from recommending next steps until receiving "a political signal from above" to do so. Cooper pined that the EU designations exercise wouldhave been easier if there had been a new, "even a weak" UNSCR on Iran; some member states would balk at adding new names until the New York debate played out. Gianella went further, asserting that the EU Presidency's October statement in the IAEA represented a "walking back" of the EU's political consensus on sanctions.
UK: No Decision Preferable to Weak One
4. UK Ambassador King matched Cooper's pessimism, outlining BRUSSELS 00003423 002 OF 002 tactical difficulties facing the pro-sanctions camp within the EU-27 expert group. On the one hand, the French and the British wanted the expert group to issue new recommendations for designations as well as new measures. On the other hand, they did not want the options for action restricted by experts. Even those member states who supported the French and British line, such as the Dutch, wanted to see some kind of outcome at the UNSC before acting. In this context, the UK was seeking agreement among the E-3 to pursue new designations, but not to force through (or accept) any decision on them that was less than robust. In King's view, a designation list that included only the names of a few mid-level individuals, and a lesser Iranian bank would be unhelpful to our overall sanctions goals in both the UNSC and EU contexts. In any case, the UK's second task at the EU in December would be to gain inclusion of tough Iran language in the European Council's December 14 political declaration. Ideally, the UK would want EU leaders' acknowledgment that Solana did not issue a positive report on his dialogue with Iran and a request that EU Foreign Ministers (GAERC) take decisions at their meeting in January on new measures.
U.S. (and Saudi) Argument for Urgent EU Action Needed
5. (C/NF) King pointed out that with the exception of France and the UK, EU member states failed to see the urgent need take action vis a vis Iran. At the same time, the EU's current preoccupation with Kosovo could only be expected to grow stronger over the next few weeks and months. In this context, King urged the United States to step up its engagement with EU member states at the highest possible levels on the urgency of the Iranian situation and the need for EU action now. He noted that Secretary Rice's December 6-7 visit to Brussels was a critical opportunity to make a compelling case for EU action. EU Foreign Ministers would draw a negative conclusion if they heard minimal or no mention of Iran from us at these high-prolile Transatlantic meetings. UKREP further assessed that a direct U.S. message coupled with a complimentary Saudi message to EU partners could help help ensure the right Iran policy decision in Brussels over the next several weeks.