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Viewing cable 09STATE14070, RUSSIA'S ANTICIPATED TRANSFER OF IGLA-S (SA-24)

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09STATE14070 2009-02-14 16:04 2010-12-08 21:09 SECRET//NOFORN Secretary of State
O 141605Z FEB 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY CARACAS IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T STATE 014070


NOFORN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2019
TAGS: ETTC MARR MCAP MOPS PARM PINR PREL PTER
SUBJECT: RUSSIA'S ANTICIPATED TRANSFER OF IGLA-S (SA-24)
MANPADS TO VENEZUELA

REFS:
(A) 2005 STATE 165022
(B) 2005 MOSCOW 11807
(C) 2005 STATE 117165
(D) 2005 MOSCOW 8915
(E) 2004 STATE 257697
(F) 2004 MOSCOW 15123
(G) 2004 STATE 188657
(H) 2004 MOSCOW 14726
(I) CIS DOC.

CLASSIFIED BY EUR/FO ? IAN KELLY, REASONS: 1.4 (B) AND (D).

1. (U) This is an action request. Embassy Moscow,
please see paragraph 8.

BACKGROUND

2. (S) Over the past four years the USG has raised its
concerns with the Government of Russia (GOR) about the
Government of Venezuela's (GOV) possible acquisition
of MANPADS and other conventional weapons. In
particular, we have highlighted the risk these could
be diverted to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC) or other regional terrorists and non-
state actors.

3. (S/NF) The Igla-S (SA-24) is Russia's most advanced
MANPADS and considered one of the most lethal portable
air defense systems ever made (Ref A). Currently,
Venezuela's tactical air defense inventory consists of
1970s-era Swedish (RBS-70) and 1980s-era French
systems (Mistral), which are both crew-served systems.
If the SA-24 transfer occurs, it would be Venezuela's
first man-portable air defense weapon. The United
States and Russia have been very involved in efforts
to prevent the proliferation of MANPADS and strengthen
controls over their export. Of particular concern is
preventing the transfer of such systems into regions
known to foster unreliable end-users. We are
concerned with Venezuela?s ability to properly secure
and safeguard small arms and light weapons (SA/LW).
We see no indication that Venezuela is prepared to
implement adequate physical security and stockpile
management practices for such systems consistent with
international standards.

4. (S) In 2005, we reiterated U.S. concerns regarding
arms sales to Venezuela during a meeting with Anatoliy
Antonov, MFA Director for Disarmament and Security
Affairs (Ref B). Antonov said that he and his
Department's experts had carefully considered the
points we had presented and had shared them with
Russian services. Antonov stressed that there was no
international restriction on selling arms, including
MANPADS, to Venezuela. Russia recognized the U.S. as
a competitor in the international arms trade, with the
motivation of restricting Russia's market access.
Antonov said Russia respected the U.S. right to
determine U.S. policy on arms sales to Venezuela, but
added, "that is your decision, not ours; we have our
own policy." During the U.S.-Russia MANPADS
Arrangement Expert Meeting in 2006, when we raised
this issue with regard to Venezuela, the GOR offered
no assurances that it would not sell Igla-S to the
GOV. However, it was suggested that, if a transfer
occurred, the system would likely be vehicle-mounted.

5. (U) On November 19, 2008 the Russian News &
Information Agency Novosti (RIA Novosti) reported that
Rosoboronexport signed a major contract for the sale
of Igla-S MANPADS to Venezuela. The media report also
revealed that a manager of LOMO, a partner company in
the production of Igla-S, stated that this implied the
contract for the delivery of several hundred Igla-S
MANPADS. Copy of this media report can be found at
http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20081119/118406776 -
print.html.

6. (S/NF) At the end of January we received reports
that the GOV deployed ten Venezuelan specialists to
Kolomna, Russia, to begin training on the Igla-S
MANPADS. Reporting indicates that five of the ten
specialists are to take part in Igla-S equipment
acceptance inspections, sometime in the last ten days
of February 2009.

OBJECTIVES

7. (S) Post is requested to engage in a discussion on
the types of weapons systems Russia is selling to
Venezuela, and request details on procedures Russia
believes Venezuela has in place to safely secure and
safeguard these weapons systems, to better inform the
new Administration as it prepares to engage Russia
further on its concerns about this transaction. If
the Russian Government acknowledges the transfer is
imminent, Post should request the GOR to suspend the
shipment until the United States and Russian
Governments can discuss the matter more substantively
at the appropropriate level.

ACTION REQUEST

8. (S) Post is requested to approach appropriate host
government officials to discuss the potential transfer
of Igla-S missile systems to Venezuela. Post may draw
upon the following points:

(S/REL to RUSSIA) Begin Talking Points

-- The U.S. and Russia have committed to enhancing the
control of MANPADS to prevent their acquisition and
use by non-state actors and the proliferation to
countries that do not have strong export control and
stockpile management procedures.

-- In this context, we would like to discuss with you
the reports indicating Russia may sell the Igla-S
system to Venezuela.

-- We have recently seen press reports indicating that
Rosoboronexport has signed a contract with the St.
Petersburg-based Leningrad Optical-Mechanical
Association (LOMO) for the sale of Igla-S MANPADS to
Venezuela.

-- As we have previously discussed, our governments
have a shared concern about FARC's activities,
including the acquisition of lethal military items.

-- We understand there are no international
restrictions on selling arms, including MANPADS, to
Venezuela.

-- However, we have worked together to lead efforts
multilaterally to control MANPADS because of their
appeal to terrorists and insurgents and their threat
to civilian aircraft.

-- Most recently, we reached agreement in the
Wassenaar Arrangement to tighten our national
controls, particularly toward end-users who are unable
to protect against theft, loss, misuse, or diversion.

-- This is the basis of serious U.S. concern in this
possible transaction, as Venezuela's ties to the FARC
represent a serious proliferation/diversion risk.

-- We appreciate the frank and useful exchanges we
have had on Latin America during WHA A/S Thomas
Shannon's visit to Moscow and our continuing
cooperation on non-proliferation and counterterrorism.

-- In previous discussions on this issue, Russia has
advised that it has stringent end-use requirements
(consistent with the Wassenaar guidelines) for such
sales and requested more specific information on why
the U.S. views this possible transaction as a risk.
A/S Shannon advised in his meeting that information
gleaned from FARC hard-drives obtained by the
Colombian government in March 2008 indicate Venezuelan
government officials have tried to facilitate black
and gray arms market deals for the FARC. This
information was widely disseminated in major
mainstream international media outlets.

-- More specifically, information on the hard-drives
indicated specific discussions between the Government
of Venezuela and FARC on the provision of MANPADS.
This highlights the basis of U.S. concerns.

-- In September 2008, the U.S. Department of
Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
designated two senior Venezuelan government officials,
Hugo Carvajal Barrios and Henry de Jesus Rangel Silva,
and one former official, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, for
materially assisting the narcotics trafficking
activities of the FARC. This action was taken under
the Kingpin Act. Carvajal is the director of
Venezuela's military intelligence DIM); Rangel Silva
is the head of civilian intelligence (DISIP). Chacin
is the former interior and justice minister. He
resigned September 8, 2008. (For more information, go
to www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/hp1132.htm on
Opennet)

-- In light of Venezuela's relationship with the FARC,
corruption within the Venezuelan military, and our
assessment that Venezuela's stockpile and security
management practices do not meet international
standards, we are concerned there is a significant
risk that these weapons could be diverted to the FARC.
We also do not rule out the possibility that the
transfer of the IGLA-S weapon system could displace
and make available existing weapon systems for FARC?s
use.

-- Further, we fear that should these sophisticated
systems fall into the hands of the FARC, they could
possibly be sold or traded to drug organizations,
including those in Mexico, which are actively seeking
to acquire powerful and highly sophisticated weapons
for use against government forces.

-- The U.S. is particularly concerned about this
possibility because FARC's acquisition of MANPADS
would constitute a new capability for the group to
undermine peace and security in the region as well as
threaten counter-narcotics operations in Colombia.

-- Given these serious risks, we have serious concerns
about this transaction going forward. If this
shipment is to be transferred imminently, we
respectfully ask that your government suspend delivery
of these sophisticated weapons so we may have a more
substantive discussion. The United States also would
welcome more details on the steps you have planned to
take or assurances that you could share with us
regarding Venezuela's procedures to safely secure and
protect these types of weapons systems in order to
prevent their proliferation or theft.
End Talking Points.

9. (SBU) Washington appreciates Posts' assistance on
this matter. Department points of contact are Lou
Ganem, (202) 647-2329, ganemlc@state.sgov.gov. and Nate
Young (EUR/PRA), 202-647-7278, YoungNH@state.sgov.gov.
Please slug all replies to ISN/CATR, EUR/PRA, and
WHA/AND.


CLINTON