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Viewing cable 09RIYADH181, SAUDI EXCHANGE WITH RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR ON IRAN'S

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09RIYADH181 2009-01-28 15:03 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET Embassy Riyadh
VZCZCXRO7076
OO RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHRH #0181/01 0281550
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 281550Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY RIYADH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9987
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV IMMEDIATE 4849
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM IMMEDIATE 4355
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 RIYADH 000181 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/27/2019 
TAGS: PARM PREL MARR MNUC IR SA RU
SUBJECT: SAUDI EXCHANGE WITH RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR ON IRAN'S 
NUCLEAR PLANS 
 
Classified By: P/M COUNSELOR SCOTT MCGEHEE 
REASONS 1.4 (b) (d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY & COMMENT:  Netherlands Ambassador Ron 
Strikker, Russian Ambassador Victor Gibinvish, and Embassy 
Riyadh Pol/Mil Counselor Scott McGehee met on January 25 with 
Dr. Prince Turki Al-Kabeer, Undersecretary for Multilateral 
Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to deliver a 
joint demarche on the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear 
Terrorism (GICNT).  The meeting evolved into a pointed 
exchange between the Russian Ambassador and Dr. Prince Turki 
on Iran's nuclear ambitions.  Prince Turki warned that if 
Iran tried to produce nuclear weapons, other countries in the 
Gulf region would be compelled to do the same, or to permit 
the stationing of nuclear weapons in the Gulf to serve as a 
deterrent to the Iranians.  Turki then pointedly demanded 
that the US keep Saudi officials informed about US plans for 
Iran. 
 
2. (C) Dr. Prince Turki is not a decision-maker, but he is a 
reliable transmitter of official Saudi thinking.  Most of 
what he said is not new, although this is the most explicit 
mention we have heard of Saudi willingness to see nuclear 
weapons deployed in the GCC as a deterrent to Iran.  His 
concern that the United States will negotiate a "grand 
bargain" with Iran without consulting Saudi Arabia is a 
concern we have heard often in recent weeks. End summary & 
comment. 
 
3. (C) After hearing a brief verbal demarche from Ambassador 
Strikker on the upcoming June Plenary of the GICNT, Dr. Turki 
turned to Ambassador Gibinvish, saying, "On this issue, what 
concerns us most is how to get our neighbor to change its 
policy on enrichment." Iran needs to be convinced to enter a 
dialogue on this matter, he continued, noting that Saudi 
Arabia is also concerned about the Russian-built reactor at 
Bushehr.  A leakage from a plant at that location could bring 
an environmental catastrophe to Saudi Arabia, pointing out 
that it is located less than 300 kilometers away from Saudi 
shores, across open water. 
 
4. (C) Ambassador Gibinvish was able to say only "Sure, I 
agree!" before Prince continued, "The location is so 
dangerous! Not just to us, but to the world economy!"  He 
urged that Russia use its influence to have the reactor moved 
north, suggesting that a location on the shore of the Caspian 
Sea would be much better, where there is water available for 
reactor cooling, and where mountains rise behind to contain 
any possible leakage from moving south.  Perhaps more 
troubling, he said, is Iran's pursuit of nuclear enrichment. 
He explained that if Iran tries to produce nuclear weapons, 
other countries in the Gulf region would be compelled to do 
the same, or to permit the stationing of nuclear weapons in 
the Gulf to serve as a deterrent to the Iranians. 
 
5. (C) Amb. Gibinvish responded that Iran's desire to enrich 
uranium reflected its fears that it will someday be attacked 
by Israel or the United States and also a sign of Iran's 
desire to establish its "supremacy" in the region.  Prince 
Turki interjected:  "And we cannot accept Iranian supremacy 
in the region.  We are okay with nuclear electrical power and 
desalination, but not with enrichment."  He said that the 
prospect of Iranian enrichment raises troubling questions 
about their motivations for doing so: "they do not need it!" 
 
6. (S) Amb. Gibinvish noted that "some experts in Russia 
believe that Iran will have a bomb in 10 to 15 years." 
Russia, he said, is concerned about this matter as well, and 
has "put forward initiatives" with Iran.  Russia hopes to 
discuss this further with Saudi Arabia in the near future, 
and he said that an "important delegation" would be coming to 
Riyadh in about two months to discuss this with the Saudi 
leadership.  Prince Turki said that the Russian delegation 
would be welcomed, stressing that "we must work together to 
get them to abandon their effort to acquire nuclear weapons. 
Israel too, he said, must be convinced to surrender its 
nuclear arsenal.  But you deal with them, you have influence, 
that is why I raise this with you."  Amb. Gibinvish pledged 
that "we will do what we can.  But the Iranians are difficult 
partners."  At this point, Prince Turki turned to Pol/Mil 
Counselor who had momentarily stopped taking notes.  Prince 
Turki said "Please write this down. Whatever is discussed 
with the Iranians, we must be kept informed!  Any 
 
RIYADH 00000181  002 OF 002 
 
 
negotiations with the Iranians must take into account the 
interests of Saudi Arabia, otherwise, we will not accept it! 
We should be told -- in advance! -- of what you plan to say." 
 
RUNDELL