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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07MOSCOW5378 2007-11-14 11:59:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
Cable title:  

MFA: "NON-CONFRONTATION" WILL GUIDE IRAN STRATEGY

Tags:   PGOV PREL PARM ETRD AF IR RS 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO5827
PP RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK
DE RUEHMO #5378/01 3181159
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 141159Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5216
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0475
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0377
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005378 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/14/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PARM ETRD AF IR RS
SUBJECT: MFA: "NON-CONFRONTATION" WILL GUIDE IRAN STRATEGY

REF: MOSCOW 5218

Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns for reasons 1.4 (b/d).



1. (C) Summary: MFA Deputy Director for Iran and Afghanistan
Ali Mustafabeli told us that the MFA has yet to hear from
Tehran after Ahmadenijad assured FM Lavrov on October 30 that
he would think about the P5 1 proposal to halt uranium
enrichment. Mustafabeli predicted that the November IAEA
report on Iran would be "fair," but was resigned to a another
UNSC resolution. The MFA official stressed that Russia will
insist on a resolution that will be guided by "stability (in
Iran) and non-confrontation". Mustafabeli posited that the
removal of Ali Larajani as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator
was meant to placate hardliners but had not hardened Iran's
position on its nuclear program. He downplayed the
importance of Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki's upcoming
trip to Moscow for a meeting of the bilateral
intergovernmental commission, which would focus on enhancing
currently limited Russian-Iranian economic ties, with arms
sales representing a small "niche." Finally, Mustafabeli
said the GOR had no evidence Iran assisted the Taliban, but
did not rule out Iranian efforts to stay on good terms with
the Taliban should they come to power in Afghanistan. End
summary.

FM Lavrov's October 30 Trip to Iran


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





2. (C) On November 7, Iran expert and MFA Deputy Director for
Iran and Afghanistan Ali Mustafabeli told us FM Lavrov's
October 30 trip to Tehran failed to convince the Iranians to
accept the P5 1 proposal for Iran to halt enrichment of
uranium in return for a freeze on new sanctions, although
President Ahmadenijad agreed "after a heated debate with
Lavrov" to continue to consider the proposal. Lavrov made
clear to the Iranian leadership that progress on this matter
could lead the U.S. and EU to discuss other problematic
issues with Iran, which held out the potential for a more
normal relationship. Iranian Desk Chief Maxim Baranov told
us separately that President Putin decided to send Lavrov to
Tehran to continue the dialogue begun during Putin's October
16 Tehran visit when Supreme Leader Khameni sent an
"important signal" indicating that he would consider the
"freeze-freeze" proposal. Baranov reiterated previous
Russian assurances that despite press reports, the GOR had
not offered anything new to Tehran and stayed on track with
the P5 1 message.

IAEA and UNSC


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





3. (C) Mustafabeli predicted that in the November report on
Iranian adherence to the IAEA Work Plan, Director General
El-Baradei would give a "fair and balanced" assessment of the
level of Iranian cooperation thus far. However, Mustafabeli
acknowledged that El-Baradei would still have to address
Iranian failure to comply with the UNSC requirement to halt
enrichment of uranium, which Mustafabeli said would "force"
the UNSC to take action.



4. (C) Mustafabeli stressed that although another resolution
against Iran was inevitable, each UNSC member would "protect
its national interests" -- "stability and non-confrontation"
will continue to serve as the guiding principles for Russia.
Mustafabeli said Russia prefers "patience" over "aggressive"
measures and predicted divisions among the P5. Mustafabeli
added that he observed a "hardening" of the Chinese position
on Iran and believed the Chinese government would look after
its economic and energy interests before isolating the
Iranian regime. He speculated that President Bush's public
embrace of the Dali Lama negatively impacted China's
willingness to compromise on Iran at the UNSC.

Larajani's Removal


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





5. (C) Mustafabeli asserted that the replacement of Ali
Larajani by Saeed Jalili as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator
was driven by Iranian domestic politics and had not
significantly impacted Iran's position on its nuclear
program. He believed Jalili, who is close to President
Ahmadenijad, was named to the post in order to placate
hardliners who demanded a response to the U.S. announcement
of new sanctions on Iran.



6. Mustafabeli criticized the U.S. use of unilateral
sanctions and warned that the U.S. needed to "slow down" its
confrontational approach to Iran, which only helped
hardliners in an already precarious domestic political

MOSCOW 00005378 002 OF 002


situation. Iran Desk Chief Baranov told us he believed
Jalili would serve as Ahmadenijad's conduit just as Larajani
had for the Supreme Leader, thereby giving each a direct
channel to nuclear negotiations. Both Mustafabeli and
Baranov pointed to the recent negotiations between Iran and
the EU, during which Larajani "played the major role," as
evidence that Jalili's new post did not mean a hardening of
the Iranian position.

Iranian FM to Moscow


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





7. (C) Mustafabeli downplayed Iranian FM Mottaki's upcoming
visit to Moscow that would focus on bilateral economic
issues. Mottaki is co-chair of the Russia-Iran Joint
Economic Cooperation Commission, which holds its seventh
annual meeting in Moscow in late November or early December
(reftel). Mustafabeli told us the two sides would sign
agreements to encourage investment and promote tourism,
discuss establishing a transit corridor from the Caucuses
into Iran and a future agreement on trade and economic
cooperation.



8. Mustafabeli stressed that Russian economic interests in
Iran were not as developed as commonly believed. He said
Russia had contracts to complete the Busher nuclear power
plant and provide Iran with five civilian aircraft, but
little else. He acknowledged that arms sales to Iran
continued, but noted repeatedly that the volume was "not
significant" and that Russia was simply filling an unoccupied
niche in the Iranian economy. Mustafabeli added that despite
the current low level of Russian economic activity in Iran,
it must be remembered that Russia will always have at least a
small part of the Iranian economy. He maintained, however,
that economic interests did not drive the GOR approach to
dealing with Iran.

Iranian Support for the Taliban


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





9. (C) Mustafabeli said the GOR had no information regarding
Iranian support for the Taliban and asked that we share what
we knew. He cited the Karzai government's good relations
with Iran as evidence to the contrary, but conceded that the
Iranians are a "complicated people" who have their "hands in
many things." Mustafabeli could not rule out the possibility
that Iranian assistance to some elements of the Taliban is an
attempt to stay on good terms with the warring parties in the
event the Taliban returned to power (even in a coalition
government) in Afghanistan.
BURNS