07MOSCOW2316, RUSSIA: MFA CAUGHT OFF GUARD BY BURMA NUCLEAR DEAL

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW2316 2007-05-18 10:51 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #2316/01 1381051
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 181051Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0372
INFO RUCNNSG/NUCLEAR SUPPLIERS GROUP COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 0786
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 4228
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA PRIORITY 0165
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1101
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON PRIORITY 0047

S E C R E T MOSCOW 002316 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR EUR/PRA (FRIEDT, NASH), EUR/RUS, 
EAP, ISN, AND T SENIOR ADVISOR TIMBIE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/17/2022 
TAGS: KNNP PREL RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA: MFA CAUGHT OFF GUARD BY BURMA NUCLEAR DEAL 
 
REF: MOSCOW 1550 
 
Classified By: EST Counselor Daniel O'Grady.  Reasons 1.4(b,d) 
 
1. (S) SUMMARY.  Rosatom's May 15 announcement of an 
agreement to build a research nuclear reactor in Burma caught 
the Russian MFA by surprise.  Rosatom, however, claimed no 
one should have been surprised by the signing of an agreement 
that had simply been waiting for a Burmese response for two 
years.  Overall, the fact that the signing of the 
Russian-Burmese deal was imminent appears to have been 
closely held within a small circle at Rosatom and in the 
Russian Government.  END SUMMARY 
 
------------------- 
MFA: NO ONE TOLD US 
------------------- 
 
2. (S) On May 18 we spoke with Mikhail Kondratenkov, Second 
Secretary in the MFA Department of Security and Disarmament 
 
SIPDIS 
Affairs (DVBR), concerning Rosatom's May 15 announcement that 
Russia and Burma had signed an Intergovernmental Agreement on 
Cooperation in the construction of a Center for Nuclear 
Studies in Burma.  As described in a Rosatom press release, 
the center will include a 10MW light water research reactor 
based on fuel enriched to 20 percent in U235.  Kondratenkov 
told us that DVBR had been caught off guard by the Rosatom 
announcement.  He said that unbeknownst to DVBR, an agreement 
in principle to move ahead on the Burma deal had been in 
place for three years.  "No one told us," Kondratenkov 
complained.  He continued, "We were told of the impending 
signing only two days before it took place, which was not 
enough time for us to give the agreement a critical reading." 
 Kondratenkov apologized for telling us there had been no 
movement on an intergovernmental agreement when we met with 
him and DVBR First Secretary Aleksandr Shilin on April 6 
(Reftel).  Kondratenkov said that at the time that is what he 
and Shilin believed.  We asked Kondratenkov whether Burma 
intends to become a party to the IAEA Code of Conduct on 
Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources.  He replied, "I 
don't know," and said he still has not had time to read the 
Russia-Burma agreement through in its entirety. 
 
------------------ 
ROSATOM:  SO WHAT? 
------------------ 
 
3. (S) Prior to our conversation with Kondratenkov, we spoke 
with Natalya Klishina in Rosatom's Office of Bilateral 
Cooperation and Protocol.  We reminded Klishina of our 
conversation on April 6 (REFTEL).  Klishina reacted to our 
surprise by telling us the delay in concluding an 
intergovernmental agreement had been entirely on the Burmese 
side.  She said Russia had sent its draft to Rangoon in 2005 
and had been waiting for a reply ever since.  The Burmese 
response had finally come and was acceptable to Rosatom, 
which had always been fully prepared to move forward with the 
signing.  Thus, according to Klishina, there should have been 
no cause for surprise. 
 
4. (S) When pressed whether Burma intends to become a party 
to the IAEA Code of Conduct, Klishina replied uncertainly, 
repeating Rosatom's public assurances that the Burmese 
research reactor would come under IAEA guarantees.  Asked 
about timetables and costs, Klishina said actual contract 
 
negotiations with Atomstroyexport had not yet started and 
that she did not expect a contract to be concluded anytime 
soon.  Saying she would have to study the issue further, 
Klishina declined to predict when construction of the nuclear 
center might begin, much less how long it would take to 
complete. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
5. (S) Kondratenkov's surprise over the signing of the 
Russia-Burmese agreement was entirely genuine.  It is our 
sense that Klishina, although claiming post-fact that there 
was no reason for surprise, had not been involved in final 
negotiations leading up to the signing on May 15.  The 
imminent signing of this agreement appears to have been known 
only to a small circle within the Russian Government and 
Rosatom. 
BURNS

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