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Viewing cable 10KUWAIT88, AMBASSADOR RAISES IRANIAN NUCLEAR CONCERNS WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10KUWAIT88 2010-02-01 11:11 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kuwait
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKU #0088/01 0321145
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 011145Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4510
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L KUWAIT 000088 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NEA/ARP, NEA/RA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/01/2020 
TAGS: PREL PARM PGOV UNSC IR KU
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR RAISES IRANIAN NUCLEAR CONCERNS WITH 
KUWAIT 
 
REF: A. STATE 9124 
     B. 09 KUWAIT 1112 
     C. KUWAIT 61 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Pete O'Donohue for reasons 1.4 b and 
 d 
 
1. (C) Ambassador, during a January 31 luncheon in honor of 
Tony Blair at the residence of Prime Minister Shaykh Nasser 
Al Sabah, pulled aside Foreign Minister Shaykh Dr. Mohammed 
Al Sabah and raised ref A points concerning Iran's nuclear 
program, continuing USG concerns, and our efforts to address 
Tehran's intransigence, which now require greater application 
of international pressure.  Ambassador also noted Washington 
interest in Kuwait's recent high-level diplomatic engagement 
with Iran (PM's visit in November -- ref B), Iranian 
Parliamentary Speaker Larijani's visit in January (Ref C and 
septel), and reports of a possible Amiri visit later this 
Spring, as well as efforts to expand commercial ties, 
including oil/gas deals on the continental shelf (septel) -- 
and said that enhanced bilateral cooperation to align our 
strategies would be welcome.  The FM took the points on 
board, but declined to be drawn out further on Kuwait's 
strategy for dealing with Iran. 
 
2. (C) Earlier at the same event, Ambassador raised reftel 
points with the FM's Office Director, Shaykh Dr. Ahmad Naser 
Al Sabah (Note: also the Prime Minister's son.  End Note), 
who asked whether the Iranian side had committed "in writing" 
to the Tehran reactor fuel swap, the Qom facility inspection 
and the follow-on meeting of P5 1.  Shaykh Dr. Ahmed 
suggested that the two critical issues are whether Iran's 
nuclear program is now so widespread as to be for practical 
purposes unstoppable -- and whether Tehran has or is close to 
having the actual wherewithal to construct a nuclear device. 
Ambassador replied that we are aware of at least three 
reactors, but said the issue of capability was more difficult 
to judge -- technical know-how had to be combined with all 
the various necessary physical components, and there would 
need to be a political decision to proceed.  She emphasized 
that the President's hand is still outstretched to Iran, but 
at some point Iran will have to face the consequences of its 
recalcitrance; moreover, the President was walking a 
carefully considered fine line in dealing with others who 
wished to take actions we hoped to avoid. 
 
3. (C) Dr. Ahmad took Ambassador's point and noted that a 
year or two ago, many in Kuwait hoped a silent, targeted 
strike would take out the troublesome reactor and leave the 
region more relaxed.  He suggested that now, however, Iran 
might have multiple reactors and was so intent on achieving 
its nuclear goal that no matter what the West did, Iran would 
get the bomb, and any attempt to disrupt it militarily or 
through tough sanctions would go badly for the West.  He 
offered his analysis that "Iran is very different from Iraq; 
if the "Murshid" orders his people to do something (like 
revenge attacks across the Gulf, striking 
American interests as well as Arab), they will do it, to a 
person." 
 
4. (C) Polcounselor separately alluded to USG concerns raised 
reftel during a January 31 meeting with MFA Asia Department 
Counselor Rashid Al-Hajri during a January read-out on 
Iranian Speaker Ali Larijani's visit last week to Kuwait (Ref 
C and septel).  Al-Hajri, in response, delivered the GoK's 
standard (and not particularly convincing) talking points on 
this issue, emphasizing the GOK's "clear and unchanging 
position" that Iran must abide by UN and IAEA safeguards on 
its nuclear program and opposes any military options in the 
Gulf.  Al-Hajri said GOK officials invariably stress these 
points in meetings with Iranian counterparts; at the same 
time, Kuwait is obliged to conduct bilateral relations on a 
variety of issues with its larger neighbor. 
 
5. (C) Comment:  Kuwaitis at all levels are deeply worried 
about the nuclear ambitions of their much larger neighbor, 
but are unsure how to respond.  They worry that an Iran 
emboldened by a nuclear arsenal would assert greater regional 
hegemony at the expense of Kuwaiti interests, and would be 
more inclined to meddle in Kuwaiti internal affairs given the 
thirty percent of the nation that is Shi'a.  However, 
Kuwaitis are equally concerned about military pre-emption, 
which they believe would not prove decisive and would lead 
Iran to lash out at US interests in the Gulf (including US 
military facilities in Kuwait), and against those states in 
the region seen as allied with the US.  Kuwait's current 
limited engagement with Iran appears to be motivated by a 
desire to try to lower regional tensions (particularly 
between Iran and Saudi Arabia), with Kuwait able to distance 
 
itself from the message by emphasizing that it is speaking on 
behalf of the GCC in its capacity as GCC chair for 2010. 
 
6. (U) Comment continued:  At the same time, Kuwait more 
parochially is seeking a way forward to secure Iranian 
agreement to tap gas reserves in the disputed continental 
shelf (Kuwait needs the gas, which it has little of 
domestically, to fuel more and cleaner power plants to meet 
growing electricity demand).  The careful balancing act 
Kuwait is playing was perhaps best exemplified during the 
visit last week of Iranian parliamentary Speaker Larijani -- 
his warning that GCC states should not allow their territory 
to be used by the US to launch attacks against Iran was 
carried in most local papers on the front page, above the 
fold, with prominent coverage given below the fold to 
comprehensive coverage (including photos) of the US-Kuwait 
military exercise "Eager Mace."  Kuwait's nuanced approach 
requires careful footwork, but PM Nasser Mohammed Al Sabah, 
former dean of Tehran's diplomatic corps and self-described 
Iran expert, apparently feels confident he is up to the task 
-- and doesn't need much help from the US with the 
choreography.  End Comment. 
 
********************************************* ********* 
For more reporting from Embassy Kuwait, visit: 
visit Kuwait's Classified Website at: 
 
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Kuwa it 
********************************************* ********* 
JONES