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Viewing cable 09TRIPOLI621, RARE MEETING WITH LIBYAN ATOMIC ENERGY CHIEF LEAVES KEY LEAVES KEY QUESTIONS UNANSWERED REF: A) TRIPOLI 437; B) STATE 74778; C) TRIPOLI 436; D) TRIPOLI 599 TRIPOLI 00000621 001.2 OF 002 CLASSIFIED BY: Gene Cretz, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TRIPOLI621 2009-08-03 15:03 2011-01-31 21:09 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Tripoli
VZCZCXRO3455
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHTRO #0621/01 2151513
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 031513Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5102
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1101
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 5642
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000621 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/MAG, ISN AND OES 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  8/3/2019 
TAGS: PINR MNUC KNNP AORC IAEA PGOV PREL LY
SUBJECT: RARE MEETING WITH LIBYAN ATOMIC ENERGY CHIEF LEAVES KEY LEAVES KEY QUESTIONS UNANSWERED REF: A) TRIPOLI 437; B) STATE 74778; C) TRIPOLI 436; D) TRIPOLI 599 TRIPOLI 00000621 001.2 OF 002 CLASSIFIED BY: Gene Cretz, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(S/NF) Summary: On July 23, Libya's elusive top nuclear official, Dr. Ali Gashut, met with Pol/Econ Chief and Econoff to discuss U.S.-Libya scientist redirection programs. While he was cordial and welcoming, Gashut did not take responsibility for any of the delays in progress on joint projects, such as the Regional Nuclear Medicine Center and the installation of water desalination equipment for the pilot project at Tajura. As for the signing of an agreement with the U.S. to repatriate spent nuclear fuels (Highly-Enriched Uranium), he said it would be ready "soon," without providing any precise timeframe. He also blamed the lack of visa approvals for USG visitors on the Libyan MFA. Although Gashut said he viewed the U.S.-Libya science program as a "model of cooperation," he repeated the familiar refrain that Libya has not sufficiently benefited from its abandonment of weapons of mass destruction. Gashut said the arrangement since 2004 for him to be the Libyan focal point for joint activities had worked well and he looked forward to continuing this with new ISN staff. He also noted that an official response to Acting DAS Mitman's letter would be forthcoming. End Summary.

GASHUT: "I AM THE POINT OF CONTACT" FOR ALL U.S.-LIBYA NUCLEAR ISSUES

2.(S) Dr. Ali Gashut met with Pol/Econ Chief and Econoff to review the status of U.S.-Libya scientist redirection programs, at the Embassy's request July 23. The Embassy has not had a face-to-face meeting with Gashut since last January and two diplomatic notes requesting meetings with his staff at Tajura Nuclear Center have gone unanswered. As reported in Ref A, Gashut is the Secretary of the Libyan Atomic Energy Establishment. His deputy, Dr. Mohamed Ennami, was not available to join the meeting. Gashut said that since 2004, there had been an "operating agreement" that he would be the focal point on the Libyan side for joint activities, while the manager for Libya-related programs in the Bureau for International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) would play the same role on the U.S. side. He said this had worked well, and he looked forward to continuing this arrangement with new ISN staff. To that end, he noted that he had prepared an official response to Acting DAS Mitman's letter, which he believed would be forwarded to the embassy within a week. [Note: Post received Gashut's response - dated July 12 - on July 24; we have forwarded the text via email to NEA/MAG.]

3.(S/NF) Gashut outlined his team's composition, noting that he is in charge of the Libyan Atomic Energy Establishment (LAEE). Gashut confirmed Mohamed Ennami is his deputy; Ahmed al-Habrush is in charge of Tajura Nuclear Center; Dr. Musa Mohammed is in charge of Renewable Energy (mainly Solar), replacing Dr. Salem Ghurbal; and Dr. Husein Mansour is in charge of a small training center for Chemical Technologies (bio details provided in response to Ref B).

STATUS OF HEU/LEU GOVERNMENT-T0-GOVERNMENT AGREEMENT

4.(C) Gashut said he expected the government-to-government agreement for the repatriation of the HEU/LEU material from Tajura to Russia to be signed in the near future, without providing any specifics. The Pol/Econ Chief thanked him for his help in securing multiple-entry visas for two Department of Energy officials to travel to Libya in conjunction with the repatriation program. She told him Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman would be visiting Tripoli the week of July 26 and he would raise the need for a signed agreement during his meetings (Ref D).

REGIONAL NUCLEAR MEDICINE CENTER

5.(S) Gashut highlighted the proposed Regional Nuclear Medicine Center (RNMC) as a good symbol of U.S.-Libya cooperation - one which would demonstrate to the Libyan people that they have benefited from Libya's renunciation of its Weapons of Mass Destruction program. In Gashut's view, the Center would provide badly-needed healthcare services. He said he and his colleagues were waiting for "good news" from the U.S. side on whether the project could move forward, adding that land near the Tripoli Airport had been identified for the Center. He noted that Dr. Omran Shammam, Director of the Tripoli Medical Center, had a "few remarks" regarding the strategic plans for the project, but Gashut believed these could be resolved through discussions between the two sides. He said he was waiting to hear whether the U.S. side had a budget in place for the Center. The Pol/Econ Chief told him the U.S. side was in fact, waiting for approval from the Libyans to move forward, prior to requesting funds from Congress for the completion of the project. TRIPOLI 00000621 002.2 OF 002

6.(S/NF) [Note: In November 2008, a draft strategy was passed to the Libyan government for approval to start the architectural design for the RNMC. In a meeting last May, Dr. Shammam told EconOff that the draft strategy passed a technical review; he believed it was then sent to the MFA for approvals. Gashut told Emboffs the proposal had not been properly vetted by the General People's Committee for Health (Ministry of Health-equivalent). However, in a June meeting between the Ambassador and the Secretary of the GPC for Health, neither the Secretary nor his colleagues had ever heard of the Center proposal (Ref C). In his April meetings in Washington, DC, Gashut said that the time-line contained within the RNMC proposal was too long and needed to be sped up. To date, however, the Embassy has not received an official response to the submitted proposal. End note.]

SISTER LAB

7.(C) Emboffs conveyed disappointment that visas were not approved for the June Sister Laboratory visit. Gashut insisted that visa approvals remained within the purview of the MFA.

WATER DESALINATION PILOT PROJECT

8.(S) Gashut informed Emboffs that the water desalination project was stalled because his team could not access the necessary equipment to proceed. He said that some of the equipment for the desalination project and analytic laboratory had arrived but that other equipment had not yet cleared customs because the Libyan shipping agent had not received the original bill of lading from the U.S.-based shipping company. Econoff assured Gashut that a new "original" bill of lading was being sent to Tripoli via the U.S. Embassy. Gashut said once the equipment was in place, the Department of Energy officials (Malynda Cappelle and Randy Everett) could visit to verify all equipment had arrived and to provide training to the desalination project staff. Emboffs reviewed an ISN-supplied list of program areas that required completion by Gashut's team, including the need to ensure the accuracy of the wiring for the housing of the desalination project. In response, Gashut said he had forwarded relevant emails to the desalination project staff. He asked us to send him an email with other outstanding items, such as whether a radioactive waste tracking database was completed and pledged to review the points with relevant Tajura staff.

RENEWABLE ENERGY ACTIVITIES

9.(S/NF) Earlier this month, two officials (Musa Mohamed and Khairy Agha) of the Renewable Energy Research Center received funding from the ISN Bureau to attend a conference on alternative energy in California. Gashut said the trip was useful and he seemed pleased the two were able to participate. He noted Dr. Musa Mohamed was now the director of the Renewable Energy Research Center (replacing Dr. Salem Ghurbal) who, it has been rumored, is ill and suffers from diabetes. [Note: as Emboffs were leaving Gashut's office, they passed Ghurbal, who said hello but did not elaborate on his current employment status; he did not appear terribly ill. End note.]

10.(S/NF) Gashut noted that an Alternative Energy/Desalination Study Tour had been proposed two years ago, in talks between the U.S. and Libya. He said a delegation had been all set to go the U.S. but blamed the trip's cancellation on what he described as the lengthy U.S. visa approval process. [Note: Other reasons given to Emboffs in the past include the inability of delegation members to travel to Tunis for visa interviews, which no longer pose a problem since U.S. nonimmigrant visas are now being processed in Tripoli. End note.] Gashut noted that the project had now shifted to the Libyan Water Authority, headed by Omar Salem. He suggested the Embassy follow-up with Salem on the status of the delegation.

11.(S/NF) Comment: While it was helpful to have this rare, face-to-face meeting with Gashut, many unanswered questions remain, such as the status of the HEU repatriation agreement, and whether future USG visitors will be able to receive visas to come to Libya. Gashut was cordial and polite but not particularly effusive. He refused to commit to regular meetings, such as on a monthly basis, with Emboffs, yet insisted on directing all USG communication with Tajura officials. One can only surmise that our scientific engagement, like all of our other engagement, is being dictated from the highest levels of the Qadhafi regime. As such, Gashut's ability to influence policy, including visas for U.S. officials, is limited. End comment. CRETZ