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Viewing cable 09ABUDHABI1151, ABU DHABI CROWN PRINCE WARNS DOE DEPSEC PONEMAN ABOUT IRAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ABUDHABI1151 2009-12-17 13:01 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Abu Dhabi
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAD #1151/01 3511307
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 171307Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0042
INFO GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
S E C R E T ABU DHABI 001151 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
STATE FOR NEA/FO AND NEA/ARP 
ENERGY FOR S1, S2, O???CONNOR AND SANDOLOW 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/17 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PARM ENRG IR YM AE
SUBJECT: ABU DHABI CROWN PRINCE WARNS DOE DEPSEC PONEMAN ABOUT IRAN 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Richard G. Olson, Ambassador, State, US Embassy Abu 
Dhabi, UAE; REASON: 1.4(B), (D) 
 
1. (S/NF) Summary: During a December 9 meeting in Abu Dhabi (other 
meetings reported septel), Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel 
Poneman told Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) that 
the USG shared many energy policy priorities with the UAE, 
including renewable energy development and the importance of 
critical energy infrastructure protection.  Poneman briefed MbZ on 
the Teheran Research Reactor (TRR) proposal and Vienna talks.  MbZ 
said he would be surprised if Iran accepted the P5+1/IAEA proposal 
and warned that Iran was already acting like a nuclear power. 
Further, and more dangerously, Iran is establishing "emirates" 
across the Muslim world, including South Lebanon and Gaza, sleeper 
"emirates" in Kuwait, Bahrain, and the Eastern Province of Saudi 
Arabia, the mother of all "emirates" in Southern Iraq, and now 
Saada in Yemen.  MbZ suggested that the U.S. is misreading the 
situation in Yemen and failing to recognize strong evidence of 
Iranian support.  End Summary. 
 
 
 
POTENTIAL COOPERATION: 
 
RENEWABLES, INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION 
 
------------------------------------- 
 
 
 
2. (SBU) The Crown Prince asked DepSec Poneman several questions 
about U.S. energy development plans, including the outlook for the 
next 25 years.  Poneman explained President Obama and Secretary Chu 
have a strategic vision of a new energy economy with a low carbon 
profile.  In the short term, Poneman said DOE is investing Recovery 
Act funds to improve efficiency and support new technologies, but 
that the USG seeks to facilitate energy development through a 
portfolio approach, not dictate what the market should pursue. On 
nuclear, MbZ specifically asked what progress could be expected 
within the next three years.  Poneman said there are a number of 
active deals under development, and strong public support for 
nuclear power, but that capital costs continue to be a challenge. 
(Comment:  MbZ pressed hard on US plans for a nuclear renaissance, 
suggesting to us that he is worried we may compete with his program 
in the hunt for nuclear engineering and technical talent. End 
Comment.) Turning to renewable energy and efficiency, the DepSec 
noted that USG goals are very much in line with Abu Dhabi's own 
Masdar (Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company) and that he looked forward 
to greater DOE-Masdar cooperation (septel). 
 
 
 
3. (SBU) Poneman also told MbZ that the USG is interested in 
supporting Abu Dhabi's critical energy infrastructure protection 
(CEIP) plans and said a DOE team was discussing cooperation 
potential with the Critical National Infrastructure Authority 
(CNIA, reported septel).  Learning from Hurricane Katrina, DOE was 
focused on survivability of assets, resiliency and recovery.  MbZ 
said he was personally very interested in greater cooperation with 
the U.S. on CEIP, through DOE, other USG entities and/or the 
private sector.  He stressed that citizens' confidence in their 
government was very important, noting "We're doing our best to make 
them feel secure."  MbZ added that while UAE is a small country, it 
has the resources to protect itself, and is willing to invest in 
top-quality infrastructure protection. 
 
 
 
IRAN 
 
---- 
 
 
 
4. (S/NF) DepSec Poneman briefed MbZ on the international proposal 
for Iran to ship 1,200 kg of Low Enriched Uranium produced at 
Natanz to a location outside Iran and where it would be enriched to 
20 percent for use to produce medical radioisotopes at the Tehran 
Research Reactor.  Poneman stressed that the IAEA, the Russians, 
and the U.S. had all taken every possible step to address stated 
Iranian concerns, including a first-ever official USG statement of 
support for the proposal.  He stressed that the offer would not 
remain open indefinitely; as DG El Baradei had said, this is a 
"fleeting" opportunity.  He also explained that the extra effort 
had strengthened international cooperation, with Russia and China 
supportive of the recent IAEA Board of Governors resolution. 
 
 
Poneman stressed that the deal was not offered out of naivete, but 
rather out of the view that if Iran agreed it would remove a 
significant amount of LEU from Natanz and if Iran refused it would 
help build international support - beginning with Russia and China 
- for tougher sanctions. 
 
5. (S/NF) The Crown Prince said he would be "very surprised" if a 
deal was possible, as Iran's nuclear program is not an issue of 
internal conflict but rather one of national pride for the vast 
majority of Iranians.  He stressed that Iran is not North Korea, 
because 1) it is looking to reestablish a Persian empire in the 
21st century, 2) Iran has resources and lacks neighbors, including 
the UAE, who can pressure it, 3) the leadership has not changed (it 
is the same people who seized Embassy Tehran in 1979) , and 4) Iran 
believes itself to be a superpower.  Poneman said the USG does not 
disagree with MbZ's analysis, but believes pride makes the Iranian 
leadership more susceptible to the pressure of the world community 
uniting against them, whereas North Korea revels in its own 
isolation.  MbZ agreed, and emphasized the strategic importance of 
creating a Palestinian State (i.e., resolving the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict) as the way to create genuine Middle 
Eastern unity on the question of Iran's nuclear program and 
regional ambitions. 
 
 
 
YEMEN 
 
----- 
 
 
 
6. (S/NF) MbZ said Iran already acts like a superpower and 
explained that, while the UAE is a federation of emirates, Iran's 
"emirates" have a larger army and budget that the UAE.  In addition 
to Iran's established emirates in South Lebanon and Gaza, sleeper 
emirates in Kuwait, Bahrain, the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, 
and the mother of all emirates in Southern Iraq.  Now Iran has an 
emirate in Saada.  MbZ told Poneman, "We believe you don't want us 
to believe" the mounting evidence of Iranian involvement in Yemen. 
He stressed that he doesn't believe Ali Abdullah Saleh either, but 
this is "not like cracking the enigma code" (in World War II), 
there are Iranian ships unloading weapons for the Houthis, and "you 
have the capability to track this."  He warned, "We know your 
priority is Al-Qaeda, but don't forget Iran. Al-Qaeda is not going 
to get a nuclear bomb; Iran is a matter of time." 
 
 
 
7. (SBU) DepSec Poneman has cleared this cable. 
OLSON