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Viewing cable 09BEIJING2932, PRC/IRAN: PREMIER WEN PUSHES RAHIMI ON DIALOGUE;

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BEIJING2932 2009-10-22 12:12 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beijing
VZCZCXRO7040
OO RUEHBC RUEHCN RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHGH RUEHKUK RUEHTRO RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #2932/01 2951203
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 221203Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6544
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 02 BEIJING 002932 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2034 
TAGS: PREL PARM ENRG PTER MNUC IR CH
SUBJECT: PRC/IRAN: PREMIER WEN PUSHES RAHIMI ON DIALOGUE; 
CHINA URGES COOPERATION WITH IAEA, P5-PLUS-1 
 
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Aubrey Carlson. 
Reasons 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  On the margins of Shanghai Cooperation 
Organization high-level meetings October 15, PRC Premier Wen 
Jiabao urged Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza 
Rahimi to move forward with direct talks with the United 
States and offered PRC support to do so, according to an MFA 
official.  Wen reportedly reiterated that Iran had the right 
to peaceful nuclear technology, but stressed China's 
opposition to Iranian development of nuclear weapons.  Our 
MFA contact claimed that China recognizes the importance of 
seizing the present opportunity and that the Iranian side did 
as well.  The PRC assesses that Iran's willingness to 
negotiate over the nuclear issue comes from Supreme Leader 
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 
but the Iranian regime remains divided over the June election 
and its aftermath.  Our contact urged the U.S. to downplay 
sanctions and seek positive, even if symbolic, benefits to 
provide Iran in response to progress in the talks.  China has 
been pushing Iran to improve its cooperation with the IAEA 
and assesses that Iran will make good on its offer to allow 
inspectors into the Qom nuclear site.  Beijing believes that 
Iran's nuclear technology is not as advanced "as some 
believe."  Iranian Embassy officials in Beijing expressed 
satisfaction to the Chinese with the outcomes of the October 
1 P5-plus-1-plus-Iran meeting and were particularly positive 
on the bilateral meeting with the U.S. side, according to the 
MFA.  Our contact argued that a constituency within Iranian 
society that advocates flexibility on the nuclear issue is a 
force in politics, but that the government will need any 
negotiations to accrue benefits to Iran given the strength of 
the conservative camp.  END SUMMARY. 
 
Wen Pushes Iranian Vice President on Nuclear Issue 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
2. (C) MFA West Asian Affairs Department Iran Division Deputy 
Director Ni Ruchi told PolOff October 21 that Premier Wen 
Jiabao's October 15 meeting with Iranian First Vice President 
Mohammad Reza Rahimi had been brief due to the press of other 
issues at the SCO Summit.  Ni said that the Chinese side had 
raised the nuclear issue and urged Iran to cooperate with the 
international community.  Wen had pushed the Iranians to move 
forward with direct talks with the United States and offered 
Chinese support to do so.  Wen had stressed that while Iran 
had a right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology, China 
opposed Iran's development of nuclear weapons.  Ni claimed 
that Rahimi had responded positively on prospects for talks 
with the United States and said that the Iranians were 
considering how best to do move forward with dialogue. 
 
Beijing Wants to Seize the Moment, as Does Tehran 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
3. (C) Ni emphasized the importance for China of the October 
1 bilateral talks between the U.S. and Iran in Geneva.  He 
noted that China had a very positive outlook for improved 
U.S. relations with Iran, a development that would be helpful 
for progress on the nuclear issue.  China recognized the 
importance of seizing the present opportunity, Ni said, given 
the poor long-term prospects for Iran to improve relations 
with the international community should progress fail to 
materialize in the near future.  He said that the Iranian 
side also understood the uniqueness of this opportunity and 
the importance of demonstrating progress.  He said that 
Beijing assessed that Iran was willing to make a deal with 
the U.S. on the nuclear issue, adding that this willingness 
came from the Supreme Leader, and that President Ahmadinejad 
was not the decision-maker on the issue.  Ni cautioned, 
however, that the Iranian regime remained divided over the 
June election and its aftermath, complicating efforts by the 
P5-plus-1 to negotiate with the regime. 
 
Trust-Building a Priority for PRC 
--------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) Ni stressed the need at present to find ways to 
increase Iran's trust in the intentions of the P5-plus-1.  He 
urged the United States to de-emphasize the push for 
additional sanctions and to seek positive, even if symbolic, 
benefits to give Iran in response to progress in the talks. 
He expressed concern that increased pressure from the 
international community would strengthen the consensus of 
hard-liners in the Iranian regime.  Ni reported that Iranian 
diplomats had claimed that while they had a high degree of 
confidence in President Obama's intentions, they remained 
suspicious about his ability to deliver on those intentions 
given political realities in the United States.  He argued 
that China's political efforts to persuade Iran to negotiate 
 
BEIJING 00002932  002 OF 002 
 
 
in good faith represented an important contribution to the 
P5-plus-1 effort to deal with the nuclear issue. 
 
PRC Urges IAEA Cooperation, Downplays Technical Progress 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
5. (C) Ni said that China had been pushing Iran to improve 
its cooperation with the IAEA and take a positive attitude in 
order to allow the agency to develop trust in Iran's 
intentions.  Beijing understood that technical meetings at 
the IAEA this week had achieved progress, Ni said, adding 
that China hoped to see progress on the Tehran Research 
Reactor fuel proposal.  China assessed that Iran would allow 
inspectors into the Qom site, Ni said.  He stressed, too, 
that Iran's nuclear technology was not as advanced "as some 
believe," and that Iran's overall level of industrial 
development represented a serious impediment to development 
of nuclear technology and particularly to weaponization.  He 
noted that of the 5,000 centrifuges in Iran, less than half 
were actually in operation. 
 
Iranian Side Upbeat on October 1 Meeting 
---------------------------------------- 
 
6. (C) Ni said Iranian embassy contacts in Beijing had 
expressed satisfaction with the outcomes of the October 
meeting in Geneva, calling the event a "success." Though 
concerned that sitting down with the U.S. would be "a 
mistake," the Iranians had left the U.S.-Iran bilateral 
meeting wanting to continue the process.  Ni suggested that 
some within the Iranian regime understood the need for a 
change in political direction, particularly after the 
difficult June election.  He also reported that the Iranians 
were putting renewed focus on creating an effective plan for 
economic development. 
 
MFA: U.S. Should Incentivize, Reward Iranian Progress 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
7. (C) On direct U.S.-Iran talks, Ni urged the U.S. side to 
make a clear statement abandoning the notion of regime 
change.  He suggested seeking a "cooperative partnership" 
with Iran on shared concerns such as security in Iraq and 
Afghanistan, and in doing so, recognizing Iran as a major 
regional power.  He recommended offering concrete and 
immediate benefits, especially economic incentives and a 
relaxation of existing sanctions, in response to positive 
overtures by the Iranian side.  These efforts could start 
small, he added, but should be focused on sending a clear 
signal of sincere intentions to Tehran. 
 
Iranian Leadership Feels Street Pressure on Negotiations 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
8. (C) Ni reported that based on his travel to Iran, 
considerable debate was taking place among ordinary Iranians 
over the utility of the nuclear program.  Many Iranians did 
not see the use in having nuclear technology and saw it only 
as a source of problems, while others saw value in the 
possession of nuclear technology but were reconsidering this 
view because of progress in talks with the United States.  In 
contrast, a more conservative constituency in Iran was 
disinclined to make any concessions to the international 
community on the nuclear issue.  In light of this division in 
society, Ni argued, the Iranian leadership would not make 
concessions without meaningful and visible compensation. 
HUNTSMAN