07MOSCOW1521, RUSSIA: NEW CONCILIATORY TONE AT ISTC MEETINGS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW1521 2007-04-05 16:04 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6289
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1521/01 0951604
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 051604Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8953
INFO RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA PRIORITY 0078
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK PRIORITY 2535
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE PRIORITY 0252
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV PRIORITY 0082
RUEHSK/AMEMBASSY MINSK PRIORITY 5398
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 1683
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 2046
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 2658
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 3807
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 4097
RUEHYE/AMEMBASSY YEREVAN PRIORITY 0461
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 001521 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR ISN/CTR, EUR/RUS AND EUR/PRA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/05/2017 
TAGS: GG KNNP PARM PREL RS TSPL
SUBJECT: RUSSIA: NEW CONCILIATORY TONE AT ISTC MEETINGS 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 1493 
     B. MOSCOW 12858 
 
Classified By: EST Counselor Daniel O'Grady.  Reasons: 1.4 (b,d) 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  The March 29-30 meetings in Moscow of the 
Coordinating Committee and Governing Board of the 
International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) succeeded 
in resolving some of the controversial issues facing the 
center, while defusing others to allow for their resolution 
down the road.  Agreements were reached on how to label areas 
of weapons expertise for project participants, on allowing a 
reduction in the Russian labor force employed at the ISTC, 
and on implementing improvements in the Center's procurement 
procedures.  On the other hand, varied perspectives on the 
Vision Statement and Strategic Plan to govern the Center's 
future indicated that an effort to reach agreement was 
premature.  The parties decided to form a working group to 
see if a common draft could be produced in time for the next 
Governing Board meeting at the end of June.  Problems in 
gaining access to do audits and monitor projects also were 
deferred, with the parties entrusting the Executive Director 
to try to achieve a compromise solution.  Finally, the issue 
of Georgia's dual membership in both the ISTC and the Science 
and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU) -- raised only by 
Russia -- was also given to the Executive Director to study 
in the context of increasing cooperation between the two 
centers over the next eight months.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (SBU) The March 29-30 Governing Board meeting exhibited 
almost none of the rancor evident at recent ISTC gatherings. 
All parties, but especially the Russian side, seemed to take 
pains to achieve harmonious solutions and not to hold up the 
Center's operations pending resolution of some of the 
thornier issues.  The only agenda item producing moments of 
sharp repartee was the issue of weapons expertise areas to be 
used to characterize scientists and projects.  On other 
potentially contentious issues, all sides were amenable to 
working out compromise language in small group meetings that 
took place before plenary sessions or outside the room during 
them.  The result, by and large, was the presentation of 
draft language for the decision sheet that found speedy 
assent at the plenary before there was any great debate. 
 
3. (C) Vision Statement and Strategic Plan:  It quickly 
became apparent that other parties had not had sufficient 
time to fully digest the extensive comments and alternative 
language provided by the US to the Secretariat's draft.  The 
Russians stated that they also had extensive comments that 
they had not yet presented.  The EU said that it had some 
fundamental concerns over the detailed implementation 
specified in the draft.  The EU wanted a document that was 
more vision and less planning.  After some debate over the 
merits of including concrete implementation steps in the 
document, in which the EU seemed isolated in its position, 
all parties agreed that a working group should take over to 
try to reconcile the contending positions.  The Russians 
professed to be alarmed that some of the comments by other 
parties would take the ISTC away from its original purpose 
and insisted that the tasking to the working group include an 
admonition not to stray from the ISTC founding agreement. 
This was recast in a more positive sense in a US-brokered 
deal to say that the working group should produce a document 
"consistent with" the founding agreement. The working group 
will make at least an interim report at the next Governing 
Board Meeting at the end of June. 
 
4. (SBU) Access to Institutes: The Russian party asked for 
improved coordination of institute visits, noting the high 
volume of visits at Obelensk and Vector in particular.  The 
Russians suggested an increase in the advance notification 
period and recommended that parties provide a list of 
individuals who might be visiting over the course of a year 
as a means of speeding the approval process.  Canada and the 
EU indicated that they could provide such a list; the U.S. 
party said that it would be difficult to do.  The question 
 
MOSCOW 00001521  002 OF 003 
 
 
raised by several parties was whether provision of such a 
list would actually speed approval of visits and, if so, why 
it was necessary to increase the advance notification time. 
The rights of the funding parties to audit and monitor 
projects were reaffirmed.  In the absence of any clear route 
to consensus, the p
arties asked the Secretariat to review the 
issue and provide a report. 
 
5. (SBU) Weapons Expertise Areas:  Although the Russian party 
had seemed to agree on language characterizing scientists as 
"biological weapons experts" at working-level ISTC meetings 
over the past months, the Russian side immediately objected 
to such language at the executive session of the Governing 
Board.  Approval of the Project Proposal Package that asks 
project participants to self-identify by area of expertise 
was threatened by the dispute, which featured Canada and 
Russia trading barbs about which country might have engaged 
in biological weapons production in the past.  A compromise 
text was hammered out at the table that would allow the 
Russians to continue their official denial that they ever had 
worked on biological weapons, but also allowed them to 
concede that some of their scientists had such expertise. 
The new text asks participants to identify their "weapon or 
dual use technology expertise" as "missile, chemical, 
biological, nuclear, or other."  This language also 
effectively expands the number of scientists who can engage 
on ISTC projects. 
 
6. (C) Georgian Dual-Membership:  Donor parties feared the 
worst when the Russians refused to discuss Georgia's dual 
membership in the ISTC and STCU at a pre-meeting on March 29 
specifically called to address this issue.  However, at a 
second pre-meeting on the 30th, the Russians sought to allay 
fears.  MFA rep Kruitskikh, saying he had received explicit 
instructions from Deputy FonMin Kislyak, averred that the 
Russians did not want to punish Georgia in any way and did 
not want the issue cast in terms of Georgia.  It was a 
question of administrative efficiency and principle.  The 
Russians said they had been approached by other members of 
the STCU about joining the ISTC as well and they did not want 
other countries coming in.  They also said that they were not 
interested in merging the two centers.  The Western parties 
remained unconvinced that it was necessary to have any 
statement about dual membership, but the Russians said one 
was needed from their perspective. 
 
 7. (C) In order not to delay the opening of the Governing 
Board session, a small group stayed behind to try to reach 
compromise language on the issue. After almost two hours of 
haggling, agreement was reached on a paragraph for the 
decision sheet that would ask the Executive Director to 
consult with all parties on the issue of improving 
administrative efficiency, including in terms of 
"membership," in the context of studying increased 
cooperation between the ISTC and STCU.  The Russians fought 
for mention of "dual-membership" in this context, but bowed 
to Western resistance.  The Russians had to be content with 
mention of dual membership in the agenda item title, which 
the West conceded could not be changed because it previously 
had been agreed.  At one point, the Russian rep seemed to 
indicate that after study of the issue for six months if the 
conclusion was that Georgia could remain a member of both 
centers, then that would be acceptable to the Russians.  When 
asked to confirm this, the Russian rep retreated, saying that 
Moscow would have to consider its position again at that 
time.  The Executive Director is scheduled to report his 
findings at the November 2007 Governing Board meeting. 
 
8. (U) Staff Reductions: After raising issues with how the 
ISTC would select employees to be released at a pre-meeting 
on the 29th, the Russians did not raise objections to the 
Executive Director,s new staffing plan that included the 
elimination of 18 positions. 
 
9. (U) After a presentation by the firm assessing the ISTC's 
procurement procedures, all parties expressed relief that no 
 
MOSCOW 00001521  003 OF 003 
 
 
serious wrong-doing had been found.  Parties quickly agreed 
to a US recommendation that the Executive Director make a 
determination of how to implement "best practices" outlined 
in the report that are not currently being followed at the 
Center.  The Board also welcomed the future accession of 
Switzerland to the ISTC and approved the new Russian Deputy 
Executive Director, Sergey Vorobyov.  The Board agreed that 
the next Governing Board meeting will be held on 29 June in 
Dushanbe, Tajikistan. 
 
10. (C) COMMENT:  Georgian dual membership was obviously the 
dog that did not bark at the ISTC meeting.  Kruitskikh 
clearly had to have something in the decision sheet (perhaps 
for no other reason than that the prominence Russia had given 
to the issue meant it had to be addressed), but his 
willingness to back off in the face of Western opposition to 
any language directly or indirectly critical of Georgia 
contrasted with Russian behavior at the previous Governing 
Board meeting.  It remains to be seen how the Russians will 
react in eight months to a Western position that promises to 
remain fundamentally unchanged.  No other party gave any 
indication of weakening its support for Georgia.  On other 
agenda items, the Russian position was similarly conciliatory 
even where there were clear differences in point of view from 
the Western parties (e.g., on the Vision Statement).  It may 
be that the US bilateral with Kruitskikh on March 29 (REF A) 
softened the Russian approach; they clearly appreciated 
working in a small group with the US to achieve compromise 
positions rather than dueling over language at the plenary. 
BURNS

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