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Viewing cable 09BRUSSELS537, IRAN SANCTIONS: AA/S GLASER CONSULTS KEY AMBASSADORS IN BRUSSELS REF: A. BRUSSELS 205 B. BRUSSELS 41 C. 2008 BRUSSELS 1468 D. BRUSSELS 101

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BRUSSELS537 2009-04-08 12:12 2011-02-02 21:09 SECRET//NOFORN USEU Brussels
VZCZCXRO2508
OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHBS #0537/01 0981224
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 081224Z APR 09
FM USEU BRUSSELS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAORC/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEADRO/HQ ICE DRO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DOD WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 BRUSSELS 000537

SIPDIS NOFORN

STATE FOR P, S/SAGSWA, NEA/IR, ISN, EEB/ESC, S/CT, L, EUR, INL TREASURY FOR TFFC, TFI, OIA EU POSTS FOR IRAN WATCHERS AND TFCOS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/09/2019

TAGS: ETTC KNNP PARM KTFN PTER EFIN KCRM KJUS KHLS

SUBJECT: IRAN SANCTIONS: AA/S GLASER CONSULTS KEY AMBASSADORS IN BRUSSELS REF: A. BRUSSELS 205 B. BRUSSELS 41 C. 2008 BRUSSELS 1468 D. BRUSSELS 101 

Classified By: USEU EconMinCouns Peter Chase for reasons 1.4 (b), (d), (e).

1. (S//NF) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: On March 2 and 3 Acting Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Daniel Glaser briefed EU-27 non-proliferation and Iran experts on U.S. sanctions against Iran's illicit conduct in the areas of nuclear proliferation and terrorism. On the margin of the formal briefing (reported septel), Glaser consulted senior EU officials and Ambassadors of Sweden, Spain, the Czech Republic, UK, France, and Germany. All interlocutors stressed the importance of direct communication of the U.S. stance to EU countries beyond the E3 or E3

1. The minority opposed to revising EU Iran sanctions includes Austria, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, and perhaps Romania. EU-3 Ambassadors and Solana's Deputy Robert Cooper privately encouraged the USG to approach these hold-outs bilaterally. Such engagement would remove the opposition's excuse of "not knowing what the U.S. thinks" and change their calculus for bucking EU consensus, especially if they feel they might be "singled out" by the new U.S. Administration.

2. (S//NF) AA/S Glaser's separate conversations with key EU stakeholders underscored that Iran sanctions are one of the most sensitive and controversial EU measures under the Common Foreign Security Policy. The last round took nearly a year to negotiate. Even straightforward EU political decisions usually take several months, with a minimum additional month to complete the necessary legislation. Consulting all 27 EU Member States (EUMS) bilaterally at a senior political level may prove essential to secure support for additional designations and new measures in synch with our operational timelines. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

--------------------------------------------- --------- Bilateral Side Meetings: EU Advice on Common Refrains --------------------------------------------- ---------

3. (SBU) In advance of the formal presentation to the EU-27, on March 2 and 3 Treasury AA/S Danny Glaser, Treasury Policy Advisor Timothy Dorsett, State ISN Defensive Measures Team Chief Anthony Ruggiero, and USEU officers also met separately with Political and Security Committee (PSC) Ambassadors from the Czech Republic (EU Presidency), UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Sweden (incoming EU Presidency). The delegation also consulted the political directors for EU external relations from the Council Secretariat (Robert Cooper) and Commission (Deputy Director General Karel Kovanda). Several shared messages and common themes arose.

Missing U.S. Voice Needed to Get EU Decision On Track --------------------------------------------- --------

4. (S//NF) All interlocutors underscored the significance of the U.S. delegation's presentation to all 27 EUMS. Czech Presidency PSC Ambassasdor Ivo Sraamek believed that AA/S Glaser's presentation would strengthen the negotiating position of the "80 to 90 percent (of member states) who are convinced there should be a tougher, bigger stick, beyond the UN resolutions." Sraamek called on the USG to provide "urgently needed" impetus to move the EU forward on sanctions. In this regard, he looked forward to hearing from Secretary Clinton at the FM's troika meeting on March 6. BRUSSELS 00000537 002 OF 004 Signaling the EU's intense interest in supporting the U.S. policy review, French Deputy PSC Rep Didier Chabert noted that the EU was waiting to hear how the EU side can help the U.S and noted Glaser's particular credibility on the sanctions file. Both the French and the Germans stressed the need for the USG to "confirm (our) commitment to the double-track approach."

5. (C//NF) German PSC Ambassador Clements von Goetze also noted that this extraordinary large format briefing was the most efficient way of ensuring the U.S. message is transmitted directly to all EU capitals. Furthermore, it served as a "real" signal of USG commitment to the "stick side" of the dual track approach. He urged the USG to share as much factual information as possible with EU experts in order to shore up the efforts of EU foreign ministries who were "having difficulty" convincing economic ministries that next steps should be based on criteria already in existing regulations. Other Member States were "suspicious" of the EU-3, who could use the supporting information and political messages from Washington.

Single Out but Understand the EU Foot-Draggers --------------------------------------------- -

6. (C//NF) The Czechs (please protect) and Brits both suggested that the USG should seek to bilaterally "single out" and "isolate" EU sanctions opponents in order to achieve the necessary EU consensus for tougher measures. This would be helpful to change the internal EU dynamic. Moreover, the Czechs stressed the need for high-level messages during early contacts with the EU, including, for example at Secretary Clinton's troika meeting on March 6, to say what the new Administration expects from the EU on the second track.

7. (C//NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX(strictly protect) noted that Sweden's negative stance had lent other EU sanctions opponents credibility. This "group of eight" included Cyprus and Greece (for cargo interests); Luxembourg (claiming cargo but really for banking interests); Spain and Sweden (taking a legalistic, need for UN consensus approach); Austria (also very legalistic, with concerns over both banks and cargo); Portugal (for economic reasons), and the newest addition of Romania (unspecified reasons). Several contacts pointed to Cyprus as a particular problem. (Comment: Luxembourg insists to USEU that no banking links are involved, but that their primary economic interest is indeed Cargolux's vibrant trade route to Iran, ironically including its major transportation of American-made cigarettes. They also share Sweden's preference for an explicit multilateral UN route. Luxembourg and other small states bristle that their EU counterparts "willfully" ignore their genuine concerns, perhaps increasing their obstinancy. End Comment.)

8. (C//NF) Other UK contacts (please protect) noted that in recent EU debates, it became clear that the "problematic" EU countries did not grasp that "the second track was needed to get the first track to work." The UKDel also cautioned that the term "robust implementation" was now code for overzealousness in EU chambers. Moreover, some EU member states worried that the "U.S. is now trying to be the 'good cop'" to curry economic favor later with Iran. Glaser assured the UK (and other contacts) that the United States is sympathetic to the issue of losing business to competitors, having applied trade sanctions on Iran for over two decades, but countered that this would be a much easier problem to have a year from now than the one currently facing us. BRUSSELS 00000537 003 OF 004

Timing is an Issue ------------------

9. (C//NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX (please protect) worried that the EU would await the outcome of the U.S. policy review in April, then the P5 1 letter to Iran by May, and then Iran's June elections before finally taking up "next steps" in July (which "realistically means September" by EU culture). Cooper said he would stress the urgency of action now to EU PSC Ambassadors at their March 3 meeting (septel). The new EU slogan (Ref A) is being echoed by EU delegations big and small. "Iran needs to fear the stick and feel a light 'tap' now," Cooper asserted. AA/S Glaser agreed, noting the stick could escalate beyond financial measures under a worst case scenario. Cooper thought this point important to make with EU counterparts, deriding that these sanctions are steps the EU should have taken a year ago.

"Legal" vs. "Aspirational" --------------------------

10. (C//NF) Cooper lamented that the collective EU culture views decision-making through an excessively legalistic lens, rather than a "great power" aspirational one. Thus he continually reminds the smaller EUMS that the situation is dangerous and unabated will lead to nuclear war in the Middle East. "Focus on protecting the international financial system from abuse," he suggested, rather than strategic goals of increasing pressure on Iran or showing a unified international stance against the nuclear program. "We can't say the banks are not a part of it. Under the spirit and letter of UNSCRs, they are as much a part of the proliferation as the engineers," he emphasized. Tell the Council that "this is illegal conduct, it is dangerous, and sanctions are a part of a strategy for success." Exacerbating the EU's "legalistic" culture were the increasing number of legal challenges to various EU sanctions regimes, including three cases by Bank Melli and its UK subsidiary pending in the EU's Court of First Inst ance.

Spain and Sweden: Bilateral Consultations Count --------------------------------------------- ---

11. (C//NF) The delegation met separately with Spain and Sweden, two countries seen as linchpins to the "no" contingent, in advance to preview the formal presentation. (Comment: This may explain why Spain and Sweden did not raise concerns publicly at the main event, perhaps taking their cohorts by surprise. Those who did speak up may have felt more conspicuous and isolated in raising concerns to the U.S. without Spain and Sweden chiming in per usual as a buffer. Some of the hold-outs may wonder how their image is coming across to the new U.S. Administration. End Comment.)

12. (C) Both the Spanish and Swedish PSC Ambassadors evinced skepticism about the results thus far of the P5 1 process and the dual track approach. Olof Skoog (Sweden) questioned sanctions' effectiveness, noted they were hurting (Swedish) national economic interests, and asked for information about Iran's attempts to circumvent sanctions activity. He expressed full support for the U.S. policy review, and said the EU wanted to support us with "input, especially on the multilateral side, where Iran could be 'engaged' on regional issues such as Iraq, Middle East and Afghanistan." Sweden and Spain questioned Russian and Chinese commitment to stated international objectives, noting that it was essential to bring them on board." Carlos Fernandez-Arias (Spain) also BRUSSELS 00000537 004 OF 004 stressed the importance of having Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, and others support as well.

13. (C) The Spanish Ambassador asserted that persuading Iran to stop its nuclear quest would require "transparency, trust, confidence, and verifiability in the region." Iran's willingness to make sacrifices for strategic reasons was an important factor. Questioning whether the "proper incentives" had yet been found, he assessed that Iran may need to see a change in tone more than substance, and may be motivated more by wanting regional respect (see Pakistan post-nuclear capability) than any profound hatred of Israel. "When Iran says they have the power to stop Hamas, we should say 'Do it, and then we'll believe you.'"

14. (C) AA/S Glaser agreed that tone was important but stressed the need for the right balance on substance during this vanishing window of opportunity to alter Iran's strategic calculus. He assured interlocutors of our commitment to the dual track. We needed more EU pressure -- consistent with existing UNSCRs -- to help it succeed. Capturing both Swedish and Spanish interest, Glaser explained why designations were necessary to prevent circumvention of existing measures.

15. (C) Glaser readily agreed that Russia and China were very important on this issue; their flexibility in the previous week's FATF statement calling for countermeasures signaled their potential for cooperation. In any case, Glaser cautioned against taking a "lowest common denominator approach" to implementing UNSCRs.

Commission Role, Analysis, and Questions ----------------------------------------

16. (C) Commission (DG RELEX) interlocutors downplayed their role in the Iran sanctions debate, asserting that their role is mostly limited to administering the paperwork and stressing unity. The Commission saw the Council as divided between those, "like the UK, pushing for more sanctions come hell or high water," versus others worried mostly about hurting their core economic interests by telling companies to cut links while third countries backfill their lost business. Additional EUMS concerns include straying from the multilateral (UN) context, staying focused on targeting proliferation sensitive activities, and heading too far into embargo territory. (Comment: USEU has also heard a similar concern about embargos from DG Trade as at least as far back as 2007.)

17. (C//NF) Comment: Indicative of how little attention the Commission pays to its responsibility for monitoring EU sanctions implementation, Political Director Kovanda was surprised to learn at the meeting from his sanctions staffer that the EU has ten separate measures against Iran, after asking Glaser whether the three UNSCRs were being observed without any gaps. Kovanda's office is in part legally responsible for determining how well the EU's own measures are being observed, but has devoted no resources to this question. End Comment.

18. (U) AA/S Glaser has cleared this message. MINIMIZE CONSIDERED MURRAY .