Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 5408 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YM YI YE

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Viewing cable 09LONDON207, IRAN - XXXXXXXXXXXX ARGUES FOR: BROADENING ENGAGEMENT ON NUCLEAR ISSUE; NUANCED HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCACY; IRAN OUTREACH OPPORTUNITY GENERATED BY GAZA LONDON 00000207 001.2 OF 005

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09LONDON207.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09LONDON207 2009-01-23 15:03 2011-02-15 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy London
VZCZCXRO1774
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK
DE RUEHLO #0207/01 0231556
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 231556Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1156
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 LONDON 000207 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
UNVIE FOR AMBASSADOR SCHULTE AND ANDREA HALL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/20/2019 
TAGS: IR IS KPRP LE PGOV PHUM PINS PREL UK IA SW
SUBJECT: IRAN - XXXXXXXXXXXX ARGUES FOR: BROADENING ENGAGEMENT ON NUCLEAR ISSUE; NUANCED HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCACY; IRAN OUTREACH OPPORTUNITY GENERATED BY GAZA  LONDON 00000207  001.2 OF 005   

Classified By: Political Counselor Rick Mills for reasons 1.4 (b) and ( d) 

1.(C/NF)  Summary: Iran's leadership is committed domestically to low-grade enrichment but is not irretrievably committed to creation of a nuclear weapon, in the view of XXXXXXXXXXXX, who met privately in London with U.S Ambassador to UNVIE Greg Schulte accompanied by London Iran Watcher (Poloff).  XXXXXXXXXXXX argued that, given a quiet, calibrated approach to the right Iranian audience, USG engagement on a broad range of strategic concerns, preferably begun after Iran's June elections, could be a way to avert Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapons capacity. XXXXXXXXXXXX argued the USG should strengthen its chances of halting Iran's nuclear programs by appearing in any future negotiations to assign the nuclear issue a lower priority; XXXXXXXXXXXX offered some specific formulations which he said he had discussed privately with XXXXXXXXXXXX.  Ambassador Schulte underlined that the international community will do nothing to undermine or dilute the authority of UNSC resolutions on Iran, which do and will remain in force. 

2. (C/NF) Summary continued:  In a separate meeting XXXXXXXXXXXX told Poloff USG advocacy with Iranian regime authorities on behalf of detained human rights and civil society figures should include restrained and temperate public statements, carefully tailored to the individual case.   XXXXXXXXXXXX also described how the Gaza crisis makes immediate engagement with USG more difficult in the short term for Tehran, but provides a possible way, in his view, for USG to extract a longer-term positive result for U.S.-Iran dynamics from current international tension over Gaza.   End summary. 

3. (C/NF)  On his way back to Iran from giving a speech at XXXXXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXXX met with Ambassador Schulte and London Iran Watcher (poloff) during a break in the Ambassador's XXXXXXXXXXXX public diplomacy schedule in London.  XXXXXXXXXXXX also met separately with Poloff December 11 and, in a separate trip, January 20.  

Since Nuclear Carpet is Priority, USG Should Appear to Look at Other Carpets First, or Be Fleeced ------------------------------------ 

4. (C/NF)  Arguing that regional security and regime legitimacy, not nuclear weapons, are Tehran's priorities, and that the regime's negotiating approach is fixed by national character (vice ideology), XXXXXXXXXXXX argued USG will get quicker results at a lower price by focusing its initial Iran outreach efforts and negotiating tactics away from the USG's own priority: i.e., away from the nuclear issue.  XXXXXXXXXXXX said the regime's negotiating approach is "in every way (that of) a carpet seller" assessing a potential customer; "the customer must not signal" which carpet he truly wants and "must be willing to walk away, or be cheated."  XXXXXXXXXXXX argued tactical sequencing of the nuclear issue after less vital issues are addressed could result in the end in a net time savings.  He argued a calculating Tehran regime will otherwise hold any issue to which the USG visibly imparts urgency hostage to its own negotiating priorities.  Iranian priorities, XXXXXXXXXXXX argued, center around the regional security and prestige which, in Iranian eyes, only the United States can bestow.  XXXXXXXXXXXX Argues XXXXXXXXXXXX 

Backing for Ahmedinejad Is Limited, and Any Outreach to Iran Should Therefore Be Delayed ---------------------------------------- 

5. (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX, using points from his XXXXXXXXXXXX, put Iranian policy stances in the context of the regime's informal networks.  Such networks bind individuals and groups together through identities forged and shared over decades (e.g., clerical circles from the same seminaries and XXXXXXXXXXXX circles with shared Iran-Iraq War service), create broad rivalries within the XXXXXXXXXXXX, and limit the "political space" for innovation or rapid decision.  Rafsanjani when he was president, from 1989-1997, had neglected the post-Iran-Iraq War IRGC, a decision which spawned XXXXXXXXXXXX resentment, and deep and spreading XXXXXXXXXXXX penetration of governmental institutions; XXXXXXXXXXXX expects the steady replacement in government posts of clerics by XXXXXXXXXXXX figures to continue.   LONDON 00000207  002 OF 005  

6. (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX believes Ahmedinejad, because his war combat record is murky, does not enjoy unconditional XXXXXXXXXXXX support and is therefore not assured of re-election in June 2009, Khamenei's stated support notwithstanding.  Khamenei himself, in XXXXXXXXXXXX's view, "feels insecure" about his own position within the framework of "velayat e faqih" (clerical rule), due to his own lack of theological achievement or merit-based clerical rank.  This underlying insecurity is what underlies what XXXXXXXXXXXX said is Khamenei's tendency to shuffle XXXXXXXXXXXX leadership and organization in times of crisis.  

7. (C/NF)  XXXXXXXXXXXX argued that the shallowness of Ahmedinejad's XXXXXXXXXXXX support, and the tenuous nature of an insecure Khameni's endorsement, plus the President's economic policy woes, will likely prevent him from being re-elected in June absent a boost from some dramatic foreign policy development, such as a sudden thaw in relations with the United States. Such a thaw, XXXXXXXXXXXX argued, would be credited to Ahmedinejad, and be seen by the regime as vindication of Ahmedinejad's confrontational style, thus scuppering any meaningful opening with the U.S. for years to come.  

Negotiations: Find a Workable Functional Equivalent for "Suspension" ---------------------------------------- 

8. (C/NF)  XXXXXXXXXXXX said general regime distrust of the U.S., cumulative since the 1979 revolution, has created the general conviction in Tehran that the USG's nuclear end game is "zero enrichment" of any type by Iran.  XXXXXXXXXXXX argued USG needs to be clearer in its messaging; he said "domestic opponents of reconciliation will exploit every opening in your offer ... (the USG in effect) must sell it to the Iranian people."  In this regard XXXXXXXXXXXX recommended USG use the concrete example of an existing U.S. technology light water reactor, perhaps in Brazil, as a centerpiece of its public approach.  XXXXXXXXXXXX noted the regime's propaganda success in marrying the nuclear confrontation to themes of nationalism, and concluded that nuclear enrichment "suspension" is a formula on which no one in Iran's political establishment, including Supreme Leader Khamenei, is able to back down on either now or in the future. 

9. (C/NF) In the course of a wide-ranging discussion of hypothetical negotiation scenarios, however, XXXXXXXXXXXX suggested a change in phrasing, which he said he had recently discussed with XXXXXXXXXXXX, could be key to USG moving toward its goal to halt or slow Iranian enrichment: the substitution in effect of "technical overhaul" for "suspension." XXXXXXXXXXXX said he assessed regime leadership would be open to a "technical overhaul" being followed by a period of "enrichment maintenance;" during "enrichment maintenance," nuclear program work would, with verification, not go forward, while further parameters for negotiations, and for further stand-still periods, were established.  XXXXXXXXXXXX pointed out it would be important for the regime to be able publicly to claim without direct contradiction that it had stood firm on its principle of "no suspension."  

"Suspension" Central to UNSCRs' Content and Authority ------------------------------- 

10. (C/NF) Ambassador Schulte underlined the international community will do nothing to undermine or dilute the authority of UNSC resolutions on Iran, which will remain in force, and pointed to the term "suspension" in those documents.  The Ambassador also pointed out that negotiations entail for the United States the inherent risk that they would be a device by which Tehran would be able to buy time to further its nuclear development goals -- "a way to occupy the customer but in the end keep the carpet."  The Ambassador noted Tehran's non-transparency with UN nuclear safeguard authorities has been problematic.  XXXXXXXXXXXX agreed these are powerful objections, but countered a case can be made that Iran's program has been "reactive;" he traced the program's roots to the late shah's efforts and reviewed what he called the many start-ups and stand-downs in every decade since then, ending with Ahmedinejad's foray, beginning in 2005.  In XXXXXXXXXXXX's view the goal of regime planners is not a weapon but some degree of "nuclear ambiguity," on Japan's model; he argued the vagueness of this goal offers opportunities for compromise and meaningful limitation.  

Right Approach is Everything;  LONDON 00000207  003 OF 005   Substance Can Be Fashioned to Fit --------------------------------- 

11. (C/NF)  XXXXXXXXXXXX repeatedly emphasized the content of any offer, on nuclear or other issues, will be less important than the way in which it is offered.  With respect to a nuclear offer, XXXXXXXXXXXX returned to his carpet seller analogy, and urged the USG sequence and craft its opening so as to reduce in the eyes of the Tehran regime the nuclear issue's apparent importance to the U.S. 12. (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX underlined the desperation with which Tehran seeks enhanced prestige and role in the region and, deriving from such prestige, greater legitimacy at home.  He argued that, although international rhetorical exchanges had resulted in firm regime commitment to nuclear development, and acknowledging the logical inference from nontransparency about regime aims, XXXXXXXXXXXX saw no signs the regime specifically wants nuclear weapons capacity.  He  argued Tehran does want the deterrent value of an apparent or latent capacity, such as a stockpile of enriched fuel would provide.  XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed the proximity of nuclear-armed Pakistan, a potentially radicalized and hostile Sunni state, looms even larger than the U.S. in Iranian calculations, and draws much expert-level planning attention in Tehran's think-tanks and ministries.  

XXXXXXXXXXXX Sees U.S-Iran Opportunity In Gaza Crisis: Humanitarian Supply Ship --------------------------------------- 

13. (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX, in London on a XXXXXXXXXXXX visit, discussed human rights and Gaza with Poloff on January 20. On Gaza, XXXXXXXXXXXX told Poloff that, in the last two weeks events in Gaza have made near-term engagement with USG more difficult for Tehran.  XXXXXXXXXXXX posited a convergence in late 2008 between Iranian and U.S. regional security priorities, with both governments seeing action against Al Qaeda and Sunni extremism as a priority for both.  XXXXXXXXXXXX argued that, despite the lack of more than a passing concern by the Iranian public for Palestinians, the credibility of the Tehran regime as a leader among Muslim nations is now fully engaged by the Gaza crisis, a situation pitting Tehran and Washington against each other, rather than sharing an interest "in containing Sunni radicalism," a situation which had obtained as recently as last month. 

14. (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX said the Tehran regime will remain militant on Gaza until it can show Iranian support for Hamas generating "some tangible benefit" for Palestinians. XXXXXXXXXXXX agreed it is impossible for the USG to generate on short notice any lasting political measure on Israel-Palestine which Iran could support.  He argued, however, a gesture by USG such as the release, after any necessary inspection, of the Iranian humanitarian supply ship now held off the Gaza coast, would in Iran's eyes demonstrate "its status as a player," be a public demonstration of USG "respect" for Iran, and enable Tehran to ease its confrontational stance on Gaza. 

15. (C/NF) Such a measure, XXXXXXXXXXXX maintained, would also create the kind of positive atmosphere needed for any U.S.-Iran outreach on bilateral issues beyond Gaza. XXXXXXXXXXXX added that XXXXXXXXXXXX agreed with this view.  XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX believe Iran would readily agree to inspection of the ship; XXXXXXXXXXXX reasoned the ship is highly unlikely to carry arms, since they could in these circumstances be too easily detected.  

Human Rights Advocacy: USG Needs to Pick Its Moments ----------------------------- 

16. (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX discussed the unnamed XXXXXXXXXXXX official whose XXXXXXXXXXXX comments on USG civil society's "velvet revolution" efforts at subversion were reported by international media; XXXXXXXXXXXX said XXXXXXXXXXXX.  XXXXXXXXXXXX viewed the comments as evidence the regime has not yet decided, in the interim surrounding the start of a new USG administration, whether to proceed against activists other than the four named by the official; XXXXXXXXXXXX included XXXXXXXXXXXX as someone whose status is still indeterminate in regime eyes.  

17.  (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX commented on how to maximize  LONDON 00000207  004 OF 005   effectiveness of USG public advocacy on behalf of individual human rights and civil society detainees in Iran.  He emphasized individual circumstances, saying "each arrest is different," but argued a common factor is the likelihood in many cases that an arrestee enjoys support "somewhere within the system," meaning that "within a week someone will phone Khamenei's office" on the arrestee's behalf.  XXXXXXXXXXXX said the pattern of Khamenei and his minions, who sit within a vast, amorphous web of political and financial patronage and overlapping equities, will usually respond favorably to such calls -- unless they have been given prior reason to be cautious, such as information from security officials that the arrestee in question appears to be working for or is of interest to the Americans, as evidenced by robust, immediate USG statements on the arrestee's behalf.  

18.  (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX cited the XXXXXXXXXXXX case as a textbook example of effective human rights advocacy; he emphasized the "decisive" effect on Khamenei of Lee Hamilton's letter on behalf of XXXXXXXXXXXX.  XXXXXXXXXXXX argued the letter demonstrated American interest in an arrest case, provided a message and tone respectful of Khamenei and of Iran, and enabled the regime to act with deliberation, and grant a face-saving release on humanitarian grounds.  

But An Occasional Dash of Ice Water Can Also Be Useful ----------------------------  

19.  (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX noted, however, that immediate forceful advocacy is both necessary and effective when the XXXXXXXXXXXX, as in the XXXXXXXXXXXX case, makes especially outrageous and implausible accusations, such as the use of "scientists, medical treatment, or sportsmen" for nefarious purposes; he said implausible allegations and hopelessly overheated rhetoric demand the reintroduction, by sources outside Iran, of minimum levels of rationality to human rights dialogue.  (Embassy comment: HMG officials reporting from Iran observe regularly that XXXXXXXXXXXX interlocutors sometimes begin political interactions with incredible, seemingly unhinged allegations or lines of argument.  The usual prescription HMG reports,  a respectful but pointed and factual rebuttal, redirects discussion to more rational, productive channels, with little lasting damage.  End comment)  

How Detainees Can Embarrass XXXXXXXXXXXX Interrogators: Stay Calm, Open All Files, Remember Names and Numbers -----------------------------------  

20.  (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX believes his own past success, in not drawing regime authorities' ire despite his frequent external travel and U.S. connections, stems from his track record of "transparency with the authorities."  XXXXXXXXXXXX, who has headed his firm (XXXXXXXXXXXX) in Tehran since XXXXXXXXXXXX, said he came to regime attention in XXXXXXXXXXXX and again in XXXXXXXXXXXX, when XXXXXXXXXXXX officials questioned XXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX said he has always in response offered full access and details of all work and travel to regime questioners who, XXXXXXXXXXXX claims, have always declined even to examine any of his activities or files.  XXXXXXXXXXXX said "fear of embarrassment" is a powerful consideration for most XXXXXXXXXXXX functionaries, who are themselves operating within a complex, opaque legal and political hierarchy in which many relationships are personal rather than institutional; interrogators try to bully and bluff subjects into agreeing not to travel, as the interrogators do not in most cases have full authority themselves to deny someone the right to travel.  

21.  (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX If arrested, XXXXXXXXXXXX  LONDON 00000207  005 OF 005   said he would not want USG to intervene immediately on his behalf, preferring low-key USG approaches via XXXXXXXXXXXX(please protect) and XXXXXXXXXXXX(please protect), who XXXXXXXXXXXX said has himself moved to from XXXXXXXXXXXX to XXXXXXXXXXXX to avoid XXXXXXXXXXXX arrest.  

Comment -------  

23.  (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX has long been a respected USG interlocutor on Iran.  Moving frequently between Western and Iranian environments, he has quietly provided USG interlocutors with analysis and insights on regime dynamics which are consistently measured, nuanced, and informed. XXXXXXXXXXXX's support for delaying engagement until after Iran's June elections is not shared by all Iranian analysts with whom Poloff meets in HMG and that community.  

24.  (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX said he plans travel to the United States, if the U.S. visa for which he recently applied, is issued by XXXXXXXXXXXX, for the XXXXXXXXXXXX.  If he is asked, he may be able, as in the past, to include a stop in Washington, D.C. on his way back to Iran.  He also said he would, as opportunities arise, reach out to USG officials abroad.  

Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX TUTTLE