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Viewing cable 09MOSCOW1111, FM LAVROV DISCUSSES MISSILE DEFENSE AND IRAN WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MOSCOW1111 2009-04-29 13:01 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET Embassy Moscow
VZCZCXRO2069
OO RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHFL RUEHKUK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP
RUEHROV
DE RUEHMO #1111/01 1191349
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 291349Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3092
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 MOSCOW 001111 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/29/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR KACT IR RS
SUBJECT: FM LAVROV DISCUSSES MISSILE DEFENSE AND IRAN WITH 
CODEL LEVIN 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John R. Beyrle for reasons 1.4(b) and (d) 
 
1. (S) Summary.  Foreign Minister Lavrov told visiting Codel 
Levin April 15 that arms control issues were Russia's top 
priority.  Noting that Moscow was waiting for concrete 
proposals, including specific language, from the U.S. on a 
post-START treaty agreement, Lavrov said he recognized that 
the U.S. would not want to address the link between offensive 
and defensive weapons in the post-START negotiations, but it 
would be important to have such a dialogue in the future. 
Russia was interested in developing a joint missile defense 
system (MD) with the U.S., but we should start "from 
scratch," with joint threat assessments, determination of 
necessary resources, and best location for MD assets.  Lavrov 
rejected a quid pro quo in which the U.S. would discontinue 
its MD plans for eastern Europe in exchange for Russia 
pressuring Iran to end its nuclear weapons program, 
emphasizing that each issue should be considered separately. 
He acknowledged that Moscow was concerned about Iran's 
longer-range missile development and said Russia would be 
prepared to undertake a "dual-track" approach towards Iran's 
nuclear program; offering incentives to Tehran, but keeping 
in reserve measures within the Agreed Framework.  He 
reconfirmed that Moscow had suspended the sale of S-300's to 
Iran "for the moment."  In a follow-on meeting, DFM Sergey 
Ryabkov stressed that while Russia was interested in working 
with the U.S. on MD, it would be difficult for Russia to join 
a U.S. MD effort that included sites in Poland and the Czech 
Republic, and urged that if the U.S. intended to pursue sites 
in Europe, they should be further west and south, so as to 
diminish the effect on Russian capabilities.  Ryabkov 
emphasized that "no one can deliver Iran to the U.S., except 
the U.S. itself," and argued that, while the S-300 sale was 
"frozen," the "less Moscow heard from Washington about it, 
the better."  End summary. 
 
2. (C) In a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 
Moscow April 15, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services 
Committee, Carl Levin (D-MI), together with SASC members Bill 
Nelson (D-FL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) emphasized that they 
were united in their hope that the U.S. and Russia could 
strengthen their cooperation to address common challenges. 
Noting the Senate's Constitutional role in ratifying treaties 
and providing advice and recommendations on foreign policy 
issues to the President, Senator Levin raised missile defense 
(MD) as an issue that had divided the two countries, but 
should unite them.  He suggested that if Russia and the U.S, 
could work together on MD, it would send a powerful message 
to those who might threaten us, including to Iran. 
 
3. (C) FM Lavrov welcomed the Senators' visit, and noted that 
it was timely, coming two weeks after the first meeting 
between Presidents Obama and Medvedev.  He highlighted the 
important role "Parliaments" play in building constructive 
relationships and expressed the hope that the U.S. and Russia 
could overcome the "inertia" that had characterized the 
relationship in the past. 
 
Arms Control, NPT 
----------------- 
 
4. (C) Lavrov said that arms control issues were Russia's top 
priority.  The U.S.-Russia agenda was positive, even though 
we had differences.  Moscow hoped the U.S. Administration 
would submit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty for 
ratification, and would reconsider sending the "123" 
Agreement to the Hill.  He welcomed President Obama's remarks 
supporting nuclear weapons reductions, saying that such 
reductions were not just a matter of security for the U.S. 
and Russia, but carried a political message that would be 
important for the 2010 review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty 
(NPT).  While characterizing the elimination of nuclear 
weapons as "a noble goal," Lavrov said it was not "an 
immediate project."  We needed to have some clear proposals, 
which would give others a clear idea of the way forward.  He 
suggested that the next stage after the post-START 
negotiations should consider how to engage others, such as 
the UK, in discussions of further reductions, as well as 
looking at tactical nuclear weapons. 
 
5. (C) There was "a lot to do" on non-proliferation issues, 
Lavrov said, including Iran and North Korea.  Pakistan was a 
concern, and we should think about engaging them as well as 
India and Israel.  The U.S. and Russia had cooperated to 
 
MOSCOW 00001111  002 OF 005 
 
 
address the danger of non-state actors acquiring nuclear 
material though programs such as the Global Initiative to 
Combat Nuclear Terrorism and UN Security Council Resolution 
1540.  The U.S. and Russia should also look at ways to 
strengthen the NPT regime, including how to universalize the 
Additional Protocol.  We should also work on issues like fuel 
supply, the Nuclear Fuel Center Russia had started, and 
programs like the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. 
 
Post-START 
---------- 
 
6. (C) Lavrov expressed appreciation for the Senate's 
confirmation of Rose Gottemoeller as A/S for VCI, noting that 
the U.S. and Russia had a lot of work to do to achieve a 
follow-on agreement to the START Treaty.  The issue would be 
discussed at the meeting between DVBR Director Anatoliy 
Antonov and A/S Gottemoeller in Rome on April 24, as well as 
in his meeting with the Secretary in Washington in May.  The 
teams would report to the Presidents in July, and hope to 
reach a framework agreement by the end of the year.  He said 
that while the Presidents in their statement April 1 had 
endorsed reductions below the Moscow Treaty limits and had 
agreed to use many of the verification procedures of the 
START Treaty, Moscow was waiting for more concrete proposals 
from the U.S., including specific language. 
 
7. (C) Lavrov highlighted the April 1 Joint Statement's 
reference to the link between offensive and defensive 
weapons, saying that the balance between the two that had 
existed in the Soviet Union had been thrown off kilter when 
the U.S. withdrew from the ABM Treaty.  He stressed that he 
recognized this did not mean the U.S. would support 
addressing the linkage during the post-START negotiations, 
but it was important to have a discussion on it at some point 
in the future. 
 
Missile Defense and Iran 
------------------------ 
 
8. (C) Senator Levin said the SASC was interested in 
exploring the possibility of U.S. and Russia working together 
on MD.  The U.S. was focused on the threat from Iran, but he 
recognized that Russia may have a broader perspective. 
However, we were both opposed to a nuclear-armed Iran, which 
would be able to put pressure on other countries in the 
region.  The U.S. also perceived the possibility of an 
Iranian long-range missile as a threat.  He noted that press 
reports indicated that Medvedev had told Henry Kissinger and 
the Hart-Hagel Commission that he was concerned that the 
Iranian nuclear program was more of a threat than Russia had 
previously believed.  (Lavrov emphatically corrected this, 
saying Medvedev had expressed concern about Iran's missile 
launch).  Noting that the U.S. had made commitments to Poland 
and the Czech Republic, Senator Levin said the U.S. would 
need to consider how to keep those commitments and include 
Europe in a common MD program with Russia. 
 
9. (C) Agreeing that MD should unite the U.S. and Russia, 
rather than divide us, Lavrov said Russia was interested in 
developing a MD system with the U.S., but the U.S. proposals 
for an MD system in Poland and the Czech Republic ("3rd 
Site"), disrupted the balance between the U.S. and Russia's 
nuclear potential.  He stressed that then-President Putin's 
Kennebunkport proposal for a cooperative MD effort using 
Russian resources, joint analyses and determinations of the 
threat, and data exchange centers, was still on the table. 
He welcomed President Obama's statement that if the Iran 
nuclear issue were resolved satisfactorily, there would be 
less need for the 3rd Site, but took care to emphasize that 
Russia did not support a quid pro quo between Russia helping 
to get Iran to end its nuclear weapons program and the U.S. 
discontinuing its deployment in eastern Europe.  These two 
issues should be dealt with separately, on their own merits, 
Lavrov stressed. 
 
10. (C) Noting that the Congressional Budget Office had 
presented three alternatives on the MD project, Lavrov said 
this showed there were issues with the proposal.  Hastening 
to add that Russia did not endorse any of the three 
alternatives, Lavrov commended the Administration's intent to 
review them, noting this was the difference with the new 
Administration: it was willing to listen and take the time to 
analyze the alternatives, instead of saying "this is what 
 
MOSCOW 00001111  003 OF 005 
 
 
must be done; everyone must say yes sir." 
 
11. (C) In response to Senator's Levin question why Russia 
was not more concerned about Iran's missile capabilities, 
since Russia was closer to Iran, Lavrov said Moscow was "not 
complacent; we are closer."  But whenever Russian negotiators 
had protested to the U.S. side that the proposed radar could 
cover Russia up to the Urals and the interceptors could reach 
Russian territory, the U.S. response had simply been that the 
system "was not aimed at Russia."  As Medvedev and Putin had 
said, "when there is something risky on the ground, you need 
to take it into account."  Russia had warned it would need to 
take countermeasures if the 3rd site was deployed, and that 
it would put missiles in Kaliningrad.  Noting that Moscow 
would announce soon just how much it had withdrawn from 
Kaliningrad, Lavrov said he hoped the U.S. and Russia could 
find common ground on MD. 
 
12. (C) Lavrov cautioned that Russia did not perceive Iran in 
the same way as the U.S.  Iran for Russia was "much more than 
a country which might cause concern in the international 
community."  Russia opposed Iran getting a nuclear weapon, 
because Russia did not want any more "members of the nuclear 
club," but Iran and Russia were historical and traditional 
partners and neighbors, with a "rich bilateral agenda." 
Lavrov said he was certain Iran wanted to have a full nuclear 
fuel cycle and would negotiate from that basis.  It was 
unfortunate that the U.S. had not accepted the proposals a 
few years before when Iran only had 32 centrifuges; now they 
had over 5,000.  Nonetheless, Russia wanted Iran to cooperate 
fully with the IAEA and implement, and eventually ratify, the 
Additional Protocol.  As agreed to in the E3-plus-3 
statement, Russia wanted Iran to prove the peaceful nature of 
its nuclear program, in a verifiable way. 
 
13. (C) Lavrov commended the new U.S. approach to Iran, 
welcoming President Obama's readiness for the U.S. to engage 
"fully" in talks with Iran.  Willingness to discuss "all" the 
issues was a welcome step, and one which Russia had been 
advocating for several years, Lavrov said.  Iran wielded a 
lot of influence in the region, including on Afghanistan, 
Iraq, Hizbollah, Hamas, Gaza, etc.  Iran had long been 
concerned about Israel, and saw Pakistan as a nuclear-weapons 
competitor.  Putin had asked Ahmadinejad during a meeting in 
Tehran a few years before why he made such anti-Israeli 
statements, but Ahmadinejad had not responded, only saying 
that Iran was "not doing anything in the nuclear sphere 
different from Brazil."  Putin had replied that Brazil was 
not in the Middle East.  While Iran wanted to dominate the 
region and the Islamic world, which was of concern to Arab 
governments, the U.S. should realize that the "Arab Street" 
considers Iranian leaders to be heroes. 
 
14. (C) Noting that Russia was watching events in Iran 
closely, Lavrov said Moscow would be prepared to undertake 
the "dual-track approach," first offering incentives to Iran, 
but keeping in reserve measures within the Agreed Framework. 
The Administration's new approach "give us a much better 
chance than we had in the past.  We will do everything we can 
to make it work," Lavrov said. 
 
15. (C) Senator Nelson said he was encouraged by the FM's 
remarks, noting that it might be possible to consider 
cooperating on use of Russia's radars at Gabala and Armavir. 
He said he hoped Lavrov was right that Iran would be deterred 
from building a nuclear weapon, but he was skeptical.  The 
best deterrence might be for the U.S. and Russia to cooperate 
on MD. 
 
S-300 Sales 
----------- 
 
16. (S) Senator Levin said that Russia had taken a practical 
and pragmatic step with the suspension of the sale of S-300 
missiles to Iran, Senator Levin said.  This helped make 
Israel less nervous, and sent a message to Iran that the U.S. 
and Russia were working more closely together on Iran issues. 
 Lavrov acknowledged that Russia was not supplying the system 
"for the moment," but reiterated the usual mantra that 
Russia's S-300 contract with Iran did not violate any 
international or national laws or arms control regimes, and 
that the S-300's were a defensive system only.  He added that 
nothing Russia had sold Iran had been used against anyone, 
whereas U.S. weapons provided to Georgia had been used 
 
MOSCOW 00001111  004 OF 005 
 
 
against Russian soldiers.  This did not mean the U.S. did not 
have the right to sell weapons to Georgia, but Moscow did not 
want a repeat of the August 2008 conflict.  Overall, he said, 
the Iranians had legitimate security concerns.  They had been 
attacked more than once by their neighbors, and saw 
Pakistan's nuclear status as "competition for regional 
leadership." 
 
17. (S) In a follow-on meeting with DFM Ryabkov, Senator 
Levin asked whether Iran believed the S-300 sale was canceled 
or just suspended.  Ryabkov replied that a contract existed, 
and it was impossible to break a contract without 
consequences.  He repeated that Moscow had taken U.S. and 
Israeli concerns into account, and at present Russia was not 
providing any components of the system to Teheran.  Thus, it 
was "obvious the degree to which Iran was dissatisfied with 
this," he said.  But, the contract was not canceled, it was 
merely "frozen," Ryabkov stressed.  He argued that "the less 
we hear from Washington about this, the better." 
 
Afghanistan/Pakistan 
-------------------- 
 
18. (C) Senator Collins expressed appreciation for Russia's 
allowing transit of non-lethal equipment to ISAF in 
Afghanistan, and asked how the U.S. and Russia could work 
together to counter terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 
Lavrov said Pakistan was a place were "a lot of problems 
start for Afghanistan," and questioned the term "moderate 
Taliban."  He said the people on the UNSCR 1267 Committee 
list should be "blacklisted for as long as possible," but for 
anyone else, as long as they renounced terrorism, cooperated 
with the Kabul government, and refrained from extremist 
activity, it would be all right to deal with them. 
 
Ryabkov Meeting 
--------------- 
 
19. (C) In a follow-up meeting with DFM Ryabkov immediately 
afterwards, Ryabkov cited the non-paper Lavrov had given the 
Secretary in the Hague on March 31, and said there was 
already a good basis to cooperate with the U.S. on MD. 
Progress had been made in the NATO Russia Council on theater 
missile defense, and Moscow believed there was more that 
could be done there.  But he reiterated Lavrov's position 
that bilateral discussions would need to start from scratch. 
He disagreed with Senator Levin's statement that the system 
could not have a significant impact on Russia's nuclear 
capabilities.  He noted that Russia was more concerned about 
the radar than the interceptor sites, because the former 
could see the location of Russia's strategic forces, but even 
with the interceptors, nobody could predict what would be at 
those sites in 10 years' time.  In response to Senator's 
Levin's asking whether the deployments couldn't be limited by 
an agreement, Ryabkov acknowledged that was a possibility, 
but stressed that the radar could still be used with other 
U.S. MD assets.  The sites in Poland and the Czech Republic 
were part of a global MD architecture, which, when linked 
together, could almost "knock Russia out." 
 
20. (C) Ryabkov stressed that while the U.S. and Russia were 
not adversaries now, "intentions could change," whereas 
"capabilities" were much harder to change.  He noted that the 
countries in eastern Europe saw the 3rd site as more of a 
geo-political issue, bringing them closer to the West, than 
as a response to a potential threat from Iran.  "We are not 
in a zero-sum game and we do not want to use your possibly 
legitimate security concern as a geo-political pawn," Ryabkov 
argued.  Noting a link to the post-START negotiations, 
Ryabkov said the greater the reductions in number of warheads 
each side could possess, the more strategically important MD 
became.  He added that it would be politically difficult for 
Russia to join a U.S. MD effort that included sites in Poland 
and the Czech Republic.  If the U.S. intended to pursue sites 
in Europe, they should be further west and south, so as to 
diminish the effect on Russian capabilities. 
 
21. (C) In response to Senator Levin's question whether it 
would be possible to develop a joint radar system with 
Russian radars at Gabala, Armavir, and Moscow, connected to 
U.S. AEGIS and THAAD systems, Ryabkov responded that he had 
not considered such an idea before and would need to think 
about it.  Such a system, he noted, would become strategic, 
and would lack the X-band capability of the radar proposed 
 
MOSCOW 00001111  005 OF 005 
 
 
for the Czech Republic, since all the systems cited were 
early-warning radars only, but it could be an option. 
 
22. (C) Ryabkov said Russia hoped it would be possible to 
have a "meaningful dialogue" with Iran, and noted that 
President Obama's remarks had had a strong impact in Teheran 
and the Arab world.  But it was still difficult to predict 
how Teheran would react.  He characterized the P5-plus 1 
(E3-plus-3) statement as "very promising," but claimed 
experience showed Iran would not make concessions under 
pressure.  He emphasized that it was "very clear that no one 
can deliver Iran to the U.S., except the U.S. itself." 
 
Civilian Space Cooperation 
-------------------------- 
 
23. (C) In response to Senator Nelson's question about 
prospects for increased civilian space cooperation and what 
would happen when the U.S. was fully dependent on the Soyuz 
spacecraft to reach the International Space Station, Ryabkov 
said he saw no difficulty with meeting the U.S.'s needs, and 
said we should both be forward-leaning.  He noted that 
RosCosmos had suggested to NASA that Russia cooperate on 
development of the U.S.'s new spacecraft, but the idea had 
not been pursued.  Ryabkov proposed we discuss the issue 
further with RosCosmos and said Moscow favored closer 
cooperation with the U.S. and Europe in this area.  While it 
was not linked to MD, the more progress we could make on MD, 
the better able we would be to move forward on other issues. 
 
24. (U) Codel Levin did not clear this cable. 
BEYRLE