Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 2497 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YE YM YI

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Viewing cable 09BEIJING560, PRC/IRAN: CHINA SEEKS CLARITY ON U.S. IRAN POLICY,

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09BEIJING560.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BEIJING560 2009-03-04 12:12 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beijing
VZCZCXRO9112
OO RUEHBC RUEHCN RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHGH RUEHKUK RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #0560/01 0631255
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 041255Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2655
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 000560 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2034 
TAGS: PREL PARM ENRG PTER MNUC IR CH
SUBJECT: PRC/IRAN: CHINA SEEKS CLARITY ON U.S. IRAN POLICY, 
OFFERS HELP IN TALKING TO IRAN 
 
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Aubrey Carlson. 
Reasons 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  China is keen to understand the direction of 
U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and is 
willing to facilitate dialogue between the two sides, 
according to an MFA official.  China remains committed to the 
P5-plus-1 process but values its bilateral engagement with 
Iran.  Nonetheless, the Iran should not take for granted its 
economic relations with the PRC.  Despite PRC urging that 
Iran respond positively to American overtures, initial rounds 
of direct talks with the Iranians on the nuclear issue would 
be difficult, the official suggested.  The official said that 
it is too soon to contemplate what actions should be taken 
should Iran develop a nuclear weapon.  An academic contact 
suggested that there is no "point of no return" on Iran's 
development of nuclear technology and that the Iranians 
believe they are in a strong bargaining position should some 
form of new diplomatic engagement emerge.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) PolOff discussed Iran-China relations and the 
international community's efforts to deal with the Iran 
nuclear issue with Deputy Director Xu Wei of MFA's West Asian 
Affairs Department Iran Division March 3.  PolOff also met 
with Li Guofu, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies 
at the MFA-affiliated China Institute for International 
Studies (CIIS) February 27. 
 
China Seeks Clarity on Policy Review 
------------------------------------ 
 
3. (C) MFA's Xu Wei told PolOff that China was closely 
following the ongoing review of our Iran policy.  He said 
that China believed that the United States maintains a 
leadership role in the Middle East and that the results of 
the review will have an impact on Chinese engagement with the 
region.  He said that Beijing hoped for more clarity from the 
United States on policy adjustments resulting from this 
review, adding that China had been left to guess at how U.S. 
policy might change on a very important set of shared 
concerns.  In the meantime, Xu stressed, China's overall 
policy toward Iran had not changed, and China would continue 
to emphasize the importance of stability in the Middle East 
and its opposition to the development of nuclear weapons in 
the region.  Xu noted that additional clarity was especially 
important because China perceives several voices in the USG 
with different viewpoints on Iran speaking publicly on the 
issue. 
 
PRC Committed to P5-plus-1, Willing to Facilitate Talks 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
4. (C) Xu stressed the need to resolve the nuclear impasse 
through dialogue, and added that China remained committed to 
the P5-plus-1 process, as indicated in its support for the 
recent P5-plus-1 joint statement on Iran.  He said that China 
sincerely hoped that the outcome of our Iran policy review 
would be direct U.S.-Iran talks, and offered China's 
assistance in creating a channel for communication with the 
Iranians. 
 
Official: PRC Effective at Communicating with Tehran 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
5. (C) China and Iran continued to enjoy "good" relations in 
both the political and economic realms, Xu said, but this did 
not indicate that China supports all of Tehran's policies. 
He said that China had developed strong communication with 
the Iranian regime and used these channels to express to the 
Iranian leadership the concerns of the P5-plus-1 and the Gulf 
Cooperation Council over nuclear proliferation.  Beijing 
sought to persuade Iran to play a positive role in the 
region, and Chinese communication with Tehran to that end was 
effective, Xu said, adding that Iran's cooperation with the 
IAEA and the P5-plus-1, though limited, was due in part to 
Chinese intervention.  China had made clear to Iran that 
PRC-Iran economic cooperation should not be interpreted as an 
indication that China is not serious about concerns over 
nuclear proliferation or about working with the international 
community to deal with the nuclear issue. 
 
Talking to Iran Would Require Patience 
-------------------------------------- 
 
6. (C) Xu said that the U.S. policy review had generated 
debate within Iran over how to respond, especially over the 
possibility of direct dialogue.  China was urging the Iranian 
regime to respond positively to American overtures, but Xu 
said that based on his experience working on Iranian issues, 
he believed the leadership will find it difficult to show a 
 
BEIJING 00000560  002 OF 003 
 
 
positive attitude in public.  Xu counseled patience, saying 
that he was concerned that expectations in the United States 
on how Iran would respond may be too high.  Still, he said 
that the issues involved were too important for the United 
States to fail to press forward with dialogue even if any 
such discussions are difficult. 
 
"Too Soon" to Contemplate Weaponization Concerns 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
7. (C) Pressed on how China would respond if Iran developed 
nuclear weapons, Xu said that China took proliferation 
concerns seriously and opposed such a development.  However, 
he indicated that China did not yet see Iranian development 
of nuclear weapons as an immediate concern, noting that China 
was willing to "wait and see how far Iran can go" in 
developing nuclear technology before it would change its 
position.  He added that it was still too soon to contemplate 
what actions should be taken should the Iranians develop a 
nuclear weapon. 
 
8. (C) CIIS's Li Guofu echoed this approach, saying that 
while China followed the Iranian nuclear program closely, 
China was not 100-percent convinced that Iran is pursuing 
nuclear weapons.  He indicated that observers who believe 
there is a "point of no return" in Iran's technical 
development of nuclear weapons were incorrect, because the 
problem was fundamentally a political one and not technical. 
He said that Iran was moving ahead with its nuclear program 
without a clear internal position on whether it would want to 
weaponize the technology, but added that Iran hoped to bring 
the technology to the point where it could produce a nuclear 
weapon in a short period of time.  He stressed, however, that 
in his view, a complicated series of steps remained between 
the current level of technology and the point of 
weaponization, including the necessity for a nuclear test. 
Such a test, he indicated, would have a profound effect on 
the political questions facing the international community. 
 
U.S. Needs to Offer "Something Real" 
------------------------------------ 
 
9. (C) Li said that direct U.S. engagement with Iran would be 
complicated by the reality that there is little the United 
States can offer at present that would persuade Tehran to 
change its behavior.  As the regime's confidence in its own 
domestic legitimacy has grown, the value to the regime of 
normalized relations with the United States has decreased. 
Similarly, security guarantees would mean little to an 
Iranian Government convinced that it can already ensure its 
own security.  Li stressed that the U.S. side would need to 
be prepared to make concessions in any engagement, and would 
need to offer "something real."  Li sugested starting with 
demonstrating a position of "mutual respect." 
 
Iran Remains Suspicious of U.S. Intentions 
------------------------------------------ 
 
10. (C) Based on his conversations with Iranian 
policy-makers, Li said, Iran remained suspicious of U.S. 
intentions.  He suggested that dialogue with Iran should have 
a "symbolic" beginning to avoid a false start.  He said that 
the two sides should first agree on principles not directly 
related to the nuclear issue.  He suggested that if the 
Iranians show a willingness to suspend uranium enrichment, 
the United States should be prepared to follow up immediately 
with new cooperation.  He stressed that the Iranian 
leadership regarded itself an important player on the 
regional issues that concern the United States, especially 
efforts to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan. 
 
IRI Official: Nuclear Weapon Would Be "Disastrous" 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
11. (C) Li reported that he was told by a Deputy Foreign 
Minister in Tehran that Iran considers itself a regional 
power, but understands that if Iran were to develop a nuclear 
weapon, the United States would likely deploy nuclear weapons 
to the Persian Gulf region, which would be "strategically 
disastrous" for Iran.  He said that the official had told him 
Iran wants to develop "nuclear capability" as a symbol of its 
status as a regional power.  The official told Li that Iran 
was nevertheless willing to open a dialogue with the United 
States. 
 
Other Challenges to Opening a Dialogue 
-------------------------------------- 
 
12. (C) Li said that the atmosphere had improved for 
developing new engagement with Iran, but obstacles remained. 
 
BEIJING 00000560  003 OF 003 
 
 
The regime in Tehran continued to see opportunities for 
changing Iran's engagement with the world under the new U.S. 
administration, and there was debate in Iran on how best to 
respond.  Serious debate among the Iranian people on the need 
for a nuclear program had yet to take place, Li stressed, 
although the notion of weaponizing the results of the nuclear 
program continued to generate debate among the Iranian 
leadership.  Li stressed that the Iranian leadership 
continued to dismiss the notion of U.S. military action in 
response to its ongoing nuclear development and was convinced 
that suspension of uranium enrichment is not necessary for 
starting a "new process" with the United States. 
 
Election Politics also a Factor 
------------------------------- 
 
13. (C) Li said that this year's presidential election in 
Iran would be an important factor in the chances for 
meaningful talks with the United States.  Noting that the 
candidacy of former President Khatami posed the first real 
challenge of the campaign to incumbent President Ahmadinejad, 
Li stressed that Khatami would not have been able to announce 
his candidacy without explicit approval from Supreme Leader 
Ayatollah Khamenei.  Unlike previous elections, other 
reformist candidates had since dropped out of the campaign, 
Li said, improving Khatami's chances.  Still, the hard-liners 
had acted to overcome their internal divisions in light of 
the Khatami candidacy, and Ahmadinejad remained "likely" to 
be re-elected.  Li argued that the top-level blessing of the 
Khatami candidacy indicated that the Supreme Leader deems 
Khatami reliable enough and would not expect bold reforms 
even if Khatami were elected.  In the meantime, Li suggested, 
Ahmadinejad might feel the need to demonstrate his hard-line 
credentials in the run-up to the June election. 
 
PRC to Iran: Don't Take Economic Cooperation for Granted 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
14. (C) Li said that China continued to value development of 
its economic ties with Iran in order to maintain economic 
growth.  He noted that Chinese officials told their Iranian 
counterparts that they are frustrated with the lack of 
progress on the nuclear issue, progress which would create a 
foundation for new investment in the energy sector. 
According to Li, to prod the Iranians to show progress on the 
nuclear issue, the Chinese had warned them not to take 
China's economic interests in Iran for granted.  Furthermore, 
China's dependence on Iranian energy is decreasing given 
recent improvements in Sino-Saudi relations (as evidenced by 
President Hu's recent travel there) and their potential to 
bring about increased Chinese access to Saudi energy 
supplies. 
 
PICCUTA