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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08TELAVIV1012
2008-05-07 12:58:00
SECRET
Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

CLUSTER MUNITIONS: ISRAELI'S OPERATIONAL DEFENSIVE

Tags:   MASS  MARR  MCAP  PTER  LE  SY  IS 
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VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1012/01 1281258
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 071258Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6619
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
						S E C R E T TEL AVIV 001012 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/05/2018
TAGS: MASS MARR MCAP PTER LE SY IS
SUBJECT: CLUSTER MUNITIONS: ISRAELI'S OPERATIONAL DEFENSIVE
CAPABILITIES CRISIS

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

-------
SUMMARY
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S E C R E T TEL AVIV 001012

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/05/2018
TAGS: MASS MARR MCAP PTER LE SY IS
SUBJECT: CLUSTER MUNITIONS: ISRAELI'S OPERATIONAL DEFENSIVE
CAPABILITIES CRISIS

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

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


1. (S) During the May 1 inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Israeli
Cluster Munitions Working Group (CMWG), Israeli MOD, IDF and
MFA officials warned that the current U.S. legislative
prohibition on exporting cluster munitions seriously degrades
Israel's operational capabilities to defend itself. The
prohibition on exporting cluster munitions with more than a
one percent tested failure rate means that Israel cannot
access U.S. cluster munitions in pre-positioned War Reserve
Stockpiles in Israel (WRSA/I). As Israel's defense plans
assume access to the munitions -- which constitute greater
than 60 percent of the overall WRSA/I holdings -- the
officials warn that unless the prohibition is lifted, Israel
will have to revise its defensive doctrine, find a solution
to the one-percent dud rate requirement for cluster
munitions, and look to another type of weapon system on which
to center its self defense strategy. END SUMMARY.


2. (S) Civilian and military representatives from Israel's
MOD, the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) Operations Branch and
the MFA expressed grave concern to the U.S. interagency CMWG
delegation led by PM DAS Frank Ruggiero May 1 that the
current U.S. legislation banning exports of cluster munitions
with more than a one percent tested failure rate means that
Israel cannot gain access to the cluster munitions --
constituting the majority of its defensive holdings -- in
pre-positioned War Reserve Stockpiles in Israel (WRSA/I).
Israel's defense establishment is acutely concerned about
this as defense doctrine requires access to the cluster
munitions within one to two days of new hostilities -- a fact
which is all the more at the forefront of concerns due to
Hizballah's presence and growing offensive capabilities in
southern Lebanon, Iran's aggressive rhetoric, and Syria's
unpredictability (especially after the September 6 Israeli

strike against a nuclear facility in Syria).


3. (S) Specifically, U.S. and Israeli officials discussed
five aspects of the current legislative prohibition on
exporting the cluster munitions that are particularly
problematic for Israel:


A. Supply of WRSA/I stocks to Israel -- even in times of
crisis -- constitutes an export. The U.S. legislation not
only prevents Israel from receiving emergency re-supply of
cluster munitions during a crisis, but also denies the IDF
legal access to the cluster munitions in the pre-positioned
stocks in Israel. (NOTE: Until the munitions are
transferred, they are considered to be under U.S. title, and
U.S. legislation now prevents such a transfer of any cluster
munitions with less than a one percent failure rate. END
NOTE.)


B. As such, while the legislation is not specifically
targeted towards Israel, and affects a number of other key
U.S. allies, both sides believe the legislation did not
anticipate second and third order effects (e.g., access to
WRSA/I stocks).


C. The legislation covers cluster munitions that exceed a one
percent tested failure rate. This applies to most cluster
munitions in existence, and all cluster munitions in the
WRSA/I. The Israeli defense contractor, IMI, is currently
conducting research and testing on a number of cluster
munitions it has designed and which it claims meet the one
percent requirement. That said, if IMI were successful and
had two years to produce cluster munitions for Israel's
stockpile, Israel still would not have enough cluster
munitions for its operational defensive use. The Israeli
delegation stressed that domestic production is not the
answer to its requirements.


D. IMI also will be testing for the U.S. Army its efforts to
recapitalize M864E2 cluster munitions (155mm projectiles).
Israel will submit a formal proposal for this
recapitalization program that would specifically seek to
address WRSA/I cluster munitions with more than a one percent
tested failure rate. This program, however, would not be a
silver bullet answer for Israel's operational needs as it
would take considerable time to implement (requiring first
the development of a prototype program) and be very costly
(estimated to be at least half of the cost of replacing the
cluster munitions). Moreover, the issues associated with
transferring the WRSA/I munitions to Israel for the
recapitalization would also still need to be considered



E. Israeli contractors and lawyers are unclear how one
defines a one percent field-tested failure rate and the
requirements to overcome it.


4. (S) The Israeli officials stressed that as long as Israel
cannot receive cluster munitions from the U.S. or gain access
to the cluster munitions in the WRSA/I, it must consider
severe alternatives. These include:


A. Changing defensive doctrine, possibly to include greater
reliance on pre-emptive strikes.


B. Dedicating more efforts and funding towards creating a
cluster munition that meets the one percent requirement,
drawing effort and funding away from other vital programs.


C. Identifying another weapons system with capabilities as
similar as possible to the cluster munitions, and
re-centering defensive doctrine around that weapons system
(which in turn would likely divert from other IDF air
missions).


5. (S) IDF lawyers also expressed frustration with the U.S.
legislative prohibition, noting that Winograd Report
recommendations concerning cluster munitions were being
implemented, as well as recommendations conveyed in the
Military Attorney General's (MAG) concluding report. Since
the summer of 2006, the IDF has improved command and control
over cluster munitions, improved the documentation system
utilized by firing level units, revised its training program
to ensure widespread familiarization of the requirements for
using cluster munitions, and placed a greater emphasis on
accountability.


6. (S) In summary, the Israeli civilian and military
officials stressed to DAS Ruggiero and the U.S. team that
lack of access to the U.S. cluster munitions severely
degrades the IDF's artillery and rocket capabilities,
significantly affects the capabilities of the IDF's infantry
and fielded forces, reduces the IDF's capabilities for close
ground support, diverts attention from other IDF air
missions, and limits the IDF's maneuverability. One Israeli
operations officer stressed his view that the above -- in
attempting to defend Israel from future, assymetric
"terrorist guerrilla" warfare -- will lead to a longer war
and an increase in casualties on all sides in the next
conflict. The Israeli delegation concluded the day's
discussion stressing the urgent need for access to cluster
munitions.


7. (U) This cable was cleared by PM DAS Frank Ruggiero.

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