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Viewing cable 10PARIS71, STAFFDEL KESSLER ENGAGES THE FRENCH ON IRAN,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10PARIS71 2010-01-22 17:05 2010-11-29 12:12 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Paris
VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHFR #0071/01 0221744
ZNY SSSSS ZZH (CCY AD133C36 MSI9843-695)
R 221744Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8101
S E C R E T PARIS 000071 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION 
H PASS TO HOUSE STAFFER KESSLER'S OFFICE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/20/2020 
TAGS: PGOV PREL IR AF PK FR
SUBJECT: STAFFDEL KESSLER ENGAGES THE FRENCH ON IRAN, 
SANCTIONS AND AFGHANISTAN 
 
REF: 09 PARIS 1671 
 
Classified By: Pol M/C Allegrone for Reasons 1.4 b and d. 
 
1. (C) Staffdel Kessler, representing the House Committee on 
Foreign Affairs, visited Paris January 12-14 to engage French 
officials, non-government entities and the private sector 
regarding Iran, sanctions, non-proliferation and Afghanistan. 
 With a main focus of discussing potential U.S. sanctions 
legislation related to Iranian efforts to develop weapons of 
mass destruction, the staffdel heard from a wide spectrum of 
French players.  Most of the opinions supported USG efforts 
as France has been a strong ally, especially regarding Iran 
and Afghanistan.  While the usefulness of sanctions continues 
to be debated, French officials said their government was 
moving forward with haste, and bringing the European Union 
(EU) with it, to prepare enhanced sanctions against Iran. 
Even the French political opposition appears on board with 
this plan.  While challenges abound in Afghanistan, the 
Government of France (GOF) remains firmly committed to NATO's 
mission there.  Total company senior representatives 
explained to the staffdel members that its activities in Iran 
are completely legal, small in scope and that it has not been 
able to complete its buy out program there due to 
foot-dragging by the Tehran regime.  Highlights of Staffdel 
Kessler's meetings in Paris are as follows.  End summary. 
 
IRAN: OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT'S VIEW 
------------------------------------ 
 
2. (S/NF) In a January 13 meeting with members of Staffdel 
Kessler, Francois Richier, Strategic Affairs Advisor to 
President Sarkozy, addressed the issue of imposing enhanced 
sanctions against Iran.  Richier explained that the GOF was 
developing a package of measures that largely targeted the 
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps because of its economic 
holdings and its role as a weapons proliferator.  This 
package would include: 
 
--Finance - The GOF is willing to include the Iranian Central 
Bank in targeted sanctions, most likely through some of its 
subsidiary bodies.  Paris is also trying to target an Iranian 
Sovereign Wealth Fund which it recently learned has a branch 
in Germany.  France would also seek to impose sanctions that 
would cut Iran's ability to conduct "correspondent banking." 
 
--Transport - These sanctions would ban Iranian ships from 
ports and harbors in Europe.  The French envision the 
possibility of enhanced sanctions that would trace Iranian 
ships that have been re-flagged to obscure their origin.  In 
addition, Iranian air cargo planes would be banned from EU 
airports. 
 
--Insurance and re-insurance - Given the limited number of 
actors in the re-insurance industry, France believes 
prohibiting re-insurance coverage in Iran would be an 
effective sanction. 
 
--Oil and Gas - Paris proposes a ban on technical cooperation 
and investment in Iran, a well as prohibiting exports of 
refinery equipment and spare parts for oil and gas 
industries. 
 
3. (S/NF) Richier said he expects the EU will agree to 
"complement" any eventual UN Security Council Resolution 
(UNSCR) and France hopes for a short timeline to secure a new 
UNSCR in early February before securing approval at the 
Council of EU Foreign Ministers later that month.  Richier 
said that we will have to decide whether to accept grudging 
Russian concessions in order to get a UNSCR that may be weak 
and limited, or whether to "waste time" trying to lobby for a 
UNSCR that will be, at best, only marginally better.  Richier 
noted that it would be helpful if the U.S. Congress did not 
act on sanctions legislation at least until the UNSCR debate 
is concluded and he said it might be best to have U.S. 
sanctions legislation reference the new UN resolution. 
Regarding potential Chinese opposition, he hoped for 
agreement on a new UNSCR (as the prior ones were unanimous), 
but would accept a simple abstention.  Richier expects Russia 
will support the measure because the Russians were "shocked" 
by the discovery of the uranium enrichment site in Qom. 
Nevertheless, the Russians still need time to adjust their 
thinking to this reality. 
 
4. (S/NF) European countries face three main difficulties in 
deciding on sanctions against Iran, according to Richier, and 
he outlined them as follows: 
 
--Most European countries want a UN framework, including a 
new UNSCR.  Richier pointed out that a signal from the Obama 
administration that we are also prepared to move forward 
 
would be very helpful. 
 
--Determining the nature of sanctions: Some EU countries want 
to put the UN decision into EU law, but the French want to go 
beyond that and target different sanctions that we are 
unlikely to get from the next UNSCR. 
 
--Some countries simply hesitate to support sanctions for a 
variety of reasons, whether protecting their own economic 
interests, or on ideological grounds.  This is manageable, 
but complicated by individual circumstances, according to 
Richier. 
 
5. (S/NF) The GOF remains  concerned about enforcing 
sanctions with Brazil and Turkey, said Richier, because both 
have considerable ties to Iran.  He said that Turkey has made 
clear it does not want to suffer economically, as it has in 
the past.  Richier noted France's concern over Turkey's 
"regional policy" towards Iran, whereas it views Brazil's 
engagement as being more nave and possibly based on 
misinterpretation of the Obama decision to try engagement 
first (without Brazil knowing what limits on that engagement 
should be). 
 
6. (S/NF) Richier was skeptical that sanctions aimed at 
exporters of refined oil to Iran would be effective, although 
the GOF has pushed for this, because such a policy would 
require a verification mechanism requiring an investment of 
military ships along Iran's long coastline and other 
resources.  Richier believes such a policy would send a 
signal to exporters worldwide, but it would be too hard to 
implement, and would likely only dissuade the honest 
exporters.  When asked about French oil company Total and 
pending U.S. congressional legislation, Richier replied Total 
has not made new investments in Iran, although it is involved 
in a buy-back arrangement and said sales of Total's refined 
products in Iran are declining. 
 
IRAN: MFA SHARES ELYSEE'S VIEWS 
------------------------------- 
 
7. (S/NF) On January 14, Martin Briens, the Foreign 
Ministry's DAS-equivalent for Non-Proliferation, largely 
confirmed what Richier had said, but he provided additional 
information.  Briens also highlighted French ambitions to get 
a new UNSCR approved and implemented at the February 25 
Foreign Ministers meeting.  However he said "tough and fast" 
in the UNSC was unlikely, so we would probably have to settle 
for fast.  A total arms embargo, which Russia had previously 
opposed but China had not, would be a major victory, assuming 
Russia actually supported it. 
 
8. (S/NF) Briens asserted that the June election in Iran and 
its aftermath had "changed the equation" within the EU with 
respect to Iran.  He allowed that pending U.S. measures will 
"also enter into the equation."  Several countries besides 
France, including Spain, have come to the conclusion that it 
is time to move from sanctions that specifically target 
proliferation activities to ones that have a broader impact. 
Given the delays in implementing the last UNSCR on Iran, 
France and close partners had received EU approval to prepare 
modalities of implementation "in parallel" to negotiations in 
the UN.  The GOF has come to the view that the EU should take 
"autonomous" measures that are not merely a magnified 
application of UNSCRs, but it is still unclear how far EU 
partners would go in this direction.  France has noted the 
UKs adoption of a process to designate individual foreign 
entities for sanctions and it is now considering doing the 
same.  The GOF also believes that national governments can do 
more through Financial Action Task Force decisions made by 
the G8. 
 
9. (S/NF) In addition to the potential package of sanctions 
outlined by Richier (para 2), Briens said the GOF wants the 
EU to: 
 
--Impose a "prior authorization" approach on all Iran Central 
Bank transactions which would allow truly sovereign 
operations by the Central Bank to be approved, but it would 
allow greater scrutiny and control, and would slowdown the 
processing of transactions. 
 
--Cast a wide net in banning/targeting IRGC persons and 
entities. 
 
--Ban trade in equipment for internal repression and identify 
people involved. 
 
Briens shared Richier's doubts on the efficacy of trying to 
block refined petroleum products ("the bad guys will just get 
rich") but the technology and parts for the oil and gas 
 
sectors, especially for refining should also be denied to 
Iran.  Finally, on the issue of gaining China's 
participation, he suggested emphasizing regional stability 
and recruiting countries in the region to put pressure on 
China as well. 
 
AFGHANISTAN: KARZAI NEEDS TO 
FOLLOW UP ON INAUGURATION SPEECH 
-------------------------------- 
 
10. (C) On January 14 Jasmine Zerinini, head of the GOF's 
interagency Afghanistan-Pakistan cell, acknowledged that 
public opposition in France to the troop presence in 
Afghanistan has grown steadily over the past several years, 
but that this has not resulted in calls for withdrawal or 
even a significant change in strategy.  Regarding 
coordination between the International Security Assistance 
Forces, Zerinini said that there had been a great deal of 
improvement, but that the approach was still too fragmented. 
She said that France has recognized for the past year that 
the forces stationed in the north of the country were unable 
to handle the growing insurgency there.  General McChrystal 
understands this, she added, but this has not translated into 
action. 
 
11. (C) On civilian assistance, Zerinini said U.S. and French 
plans to deploy more civilians are unlikely to bear fruit, 
because ultimately only the Afghans themselves can bring 
effective development.  However, she opined, the Karzai 
administration has not shown that it is capable of doing 
this.  Although Karzai's inauguration speech in November was 
a good first step, he has done nothing since then. 
Therefore, she said, the London conference is coming far too 
early - the goal of London was to renew our partnership with 
Karzai, but this is difficult without a real roadmap for 
progress from the Afghans. 
 
PAKISTAN: REINFORCING POLITICAL RELATIONS 
----------------------------------------- 
 
12. (C) Zerinini said France is working to reinforce its 
political relations with Pakistan, and was expecting 
President Sarkozy to visit Pakistan "early in the second 
quarter" of 2010.  The GOF does not want to return to a 
relationship based on military equipment sales, as in the 
1980s, and is instead focusing on counter terrorism in 
addition to economic and trade links.  France is also trying 
to support an EU-Pakistan dialogue, but she said Pakistan 
makes it difficult by rejecting conditionality and attempting 
to focus exclusively on economic issues.  Zerinini said the 
Pakistani government is eager for trade concessions, but does 
not want any political dialogue unless it is focused on 
Kashmir. 
 
13. (C) On the role of the Pakistani military, Zerinini said 
General Kayani has "learned the lesson of Musharraf" and was 
staying behind the scenes.  However, he is manipulating the 
government and parliament, including to prevent change on 
Pakistan's policy towards Federally Administered Tribal Areas 
(FATA) along the Afghan border, and also to stir up 
controversy regarding the Kerry-Lugar bill that ties 
continued U.S. aid to increased civilian control of the 
military.  Zerinini also argued that the west had missed its 
opportunity to push the Pakistani military to crush the 
Afghan Taliban taking refuge in Pakistan.  Citing Jalaladin 
Haqqani as an example, Zerinini said in 2004 he had standing 
as a leader in the jihadi community, but did not have the 
organization to represent a significant military threat. 
However, since then, large amounts of funding, predominately 
from Gulf donors, have allowed Haqqani to create a network 
that would be difficult for the Pakistani military to defeat, 
even if it had the will to do so. 
 
14. (C) Zerinini said that bilateral measures alone to 
strengthen civilian government were unlikely to be effective, 
and that more coordination was needed among donors, 
especially the United States.  She said the Group of Friends 
of Democratic Pakistan, while imperfect, was designed to 
transform Pakistan's political elite and give them more 
leverage over the military.  However, Zerinini said it is not 
being utilized.  She said the U.S. was making significant 
efforts to help develop Pakistan's energy sector, but she 
added "I have not seen any of this in the energy working 
group of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan." 
 
THE FRENCH LEFTIST OPPOSITION 
----------------------------- 
 
15. (C) Staffdel members met opposition figures from the 
French Parliament and Senate including Deputy Pierre 
Moscovici (former Minister of European Affairs), Senator 
 
Jean-Pierre Chevenement (former Minister of Defense), Senator 
Monique Cerisier ben Guiga (author of "Going Nuclear in the 
Middle East"), and Deputy Jean-Michel Boucheron to learn 
their views on Iran and the Middle East Peace Process.  With 
respect to Iran, the group generally thought President 
Sarkozy's tone had been too harsh and they supported giving 
dialogue more time to bear fruit.  Moscovici was the most 
alarmed at the prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons 
capability and he emphasized that he would not rule out any 
means in dealing with it.  Boucheron and Cerisier ben Guiga 
accepted the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran with equanimity 
because they felt Iran was only seeking to enhance its power 
rather than seeking to use nuclear weapons for hostile 
purposes, while Boucheron was more concerned that the West's 
focus on this issue was preventing movement on a host of 
other issues where Iran might be helpful, including Iraq, 
Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza.  Chevenement said he was 
prepared to support sanctions on Iran, but he argued that 
achieving progress towards peace between the Israelis and 
Palestinians would be the most effective way of improving 
relations with the Iranian regime. 
 
16. (C) The group generally agreed that the USG was not 
moving fast enough on the Middle East peace process. 
Moscovici thought President Obama could both be a friend to 
Israel, as well as being firm when necessary.  The opposition 
members said the USG was not putting enough pressure on 
Israel and that the temporary settlement freeze announced by 
the Nentanyahu government is inadequate.  The group's 
expectations for what the Obama Administration could 
accomplish in the Middle East were high, and the perceived 
absence of concrete results could lead to disappointment on 
the French left. 
 
FRENCH ENERGY MAJOR TOTAL IN IRAN 
--------------------------------- 
 
17. (C) Total's Vice President for International Relations 
Hubert des Longchamps told staffdel members that the 
company's current activities in Iran are legal.  Much in line 
with recent statements (see reftel), Longchamps said Total's 
focus is on recouping funds, in the form of cash payments, 
from previous investments in the development of Iran's oil 
and gas blocks.  He added that Total has no operational 
responsibility in the South Pars field, and talks to finalize 
buy-back arrangements to reimburse Total a "few hundred 
thousand dollars" should have ended in 2008.  In addition, 
Total provides limited technical services to the Iranians to 
safeguard its remaining property interest.  Longchamps said 
to walk away from these interests would only reward the 
Tehran regime.  He added that Total from "time to time" sells 
excess gasoline supplies to Iran when demand drops in Europe. 
 Longchamps did not quantify the value of this trade, but he 
said if such deals carried a high political risk, Total was 
willing to forego the business.  He reiterated that there is 
no existing regulation prohibiting such sales, and if Total 
withdrew entirely from the refined petroleum product markets, 
the Indians, Koreans, and Chinese would remain active 
players. 
 
18 (C) Like other energy companies, Total plans to return to 
Iran in the future when the political situation improves, 
Longchamps explained.  Therefore, Total offers financial 
support to local communities to develop social and medical 
projects.  These programs help maintain a dialogue with the 
Iranian society and is a channel of communication that Total 
wants to keep open.  He pointed out that Total has not 
violated any U.N., EU or French laws.  Longchamps cautioned 
the U.S. against imposing sanctions in Iran because they 
would hurt typical Iranians without impacting the political 
leadership.  When the Total Vice President asked the staffdel 
if pending U.S. legislation could penalize energy companies 
for selling refined petroleum to Iran, staffdel members 
responded the legislation could possibly impact Total's 
recent shale-gas investments in the U.S. 
 
THINK TANK: EFFECTIVENESS OF SANCTIONS 
-------------------------------------- 
 
19. (C) French officials are divided over the effectiveness 
of sanctions as a response to Iran's continued pursuit of 
nuclear enrichment, according to Bruno Tertrais, senior 
researcher at the Foundation for Strategic Research (a think 
tank focusing on international security and defense issues 
whose main client is the GOF).  Tertrais told staffdel 
members that he believes sanctions can be efficient, but he 
noted the importance of defining the end goal.  He stated the 
purpose of sanctions on Iran is not to stop the nuclear 
program immediately but to exert pressure on the regime and 
to elicit a gradual change.  He listed the successful use of 
sanctions in the past on four different countries -- South 
 
Africa, Libya, Iraq, and North Korea -- the fact that 
sanctions on Iran have put a strain on its imports, and the 
accelerated debate within Iranian leadership as factors that 
back the argument that sanctions can be effective.  He 
caveated his statements throughout the meeting by saying 
sanctions would be ineffective if nothing was done to address 
the black market and business circuits to Dubai.  Regarding 
the GOF's stance on sanctions, Tertrais noted that the Office 
of the Presidency (Elysee) was more supportive of further 
sanctions and mindful of strategic issues than the MFA, which 
tended to take a regional approach and be more dovish. 
Tetrais stated that the history of the late 1980s showed that 
the more pressure foreign governments placed on the Tehran 
regime, the more the Iranians backed down. 
 
20. (C) Embassy comment: Staffdel Kessler's engagement with a 
broad audience on these issues helped advance our mutual 
understanding of the challenges and strategies to advance our 
common interests in Iran and Afghanistan, and on the 
effectiveness of sanctions. 
 
21. (U) Staffdel Kessler did not clear this cable. 
RIVKIN