|Source:||Secretary of State|
DE RUEHC #4490 3592211
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 242158Z DEC 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY YEREVAN IMMEDIATE 0000
S E C R E T STATE 134490
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/23/2018
TAGS: ETTC, MASS, OPDC, PARM, PREL, AM,
SUBJECT: (S) LETTER FROM DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE
REGARDING 2003 ARMENIAN ARMS PROCUREMENT FOR IRAN
REFS: A. YEREVAN 657, B. State 97802
Classified By: EUR/FO DAS Garber, Reasons 1.4 (b),
(c), and (d).
1. (U) Please deliver the following letter from Deputy Secretary
Negroponte. There will be no signed original. Embassy should also
propose discussions with the Government of Armenia in coming weeks.
Suggested dates and team composition will be provided septel.
Embassy Yerevan is requested to report response.
2. (Secret/Rel Armenia) Begin Letter:
Dear Mr. President:
We value our positive relationship with your government,
as we explore a range of shared interests, especially an agreement
on Nagorno Karabakh and normalization of Armenia's relations with
Turkey. At the same time, we are dismayed by a serious and,
indeed, deadly - arms re-export case.
Secretary Rice, Assistant Secretary Fried, Deputy Assistant
Secretary Bryza, and Ambassador Yovanovitch have raised with you our
deep concerns about Armenia's transfer of arms to Iran which
resulted in the death and injury of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
Notwithstanding the close relationship between our countries,
neither the Administration nor the U.S. Congress can overlook this
case. By law, the transfer of these weapons requires us to consider
whether there is a basis for the imposition of U.S. sanctions. If
sanctions are imposed, penalties could include the cutoff of U.S.
assistance and certain export restrictions.
To avoid such sanctions, it is essential that you present
compelling evidence that your government is now in partnership with
us to ensure such transfers do not occur in the future.
To convince the United States that this will not happen again,
we seek a written agreement from Armenia, memorializing its intent
to implement measures that will prevent Armenia from becoming a
source of weapons for Iran or other states or groups involved with
terrorism and/or weapons proliferation. Such measures include:
-- Reform the Armenian Export Control Commission so its members are
full time employees who exclusively work on export controls;
-- Establish, at each point of entry into Armenia, Armenian teams
dedicated to detecting and interdicting dual-use commodities and
-- Periodically accept unannounced visits by U.S. experts to assess
the work of the teams;
-- Harmonize Armenia's export control legislation with that of the
-- Update and make public Armenian export control lists,
incorporating the control lists of the Wassenaar Arrangement,
Missile Technology Control Regime, and other international control
-- Ensure that Armenian-based brokers do not facilitate arms related
-- Consult with the United States on transfers to countries that are
not member states of NATO or the EU, or participating states of the
We are prepared to send a team as early as possible in the New
Year to discuss this proposal further. It is my hope that we can
work together to forge a positive outcome which provides your
government the opportunity to strengthen Armenia's export controls
and for my government to assist you in this effort.
John D. Negroponte
End text of letter.
3. (S) Background: In 2003, Armenia facilitated Iran's purchase of
rockets and machine guns. In 2007, some of these weapons were
recovered from two Shia militant attacks in which a United States
soldier was killed and six others were injured in Iraq. The
Secretary discussed our concerns with President Sargsian on the
margins of the UN General Assembly, but he denied any transfer
occurred. The direct role of high-level Armenian officials and the
link of the weapons to an attack on U.S. forces make this case
unique and highly troubling. These transfers may provide a basis
for sanctions pursuant to U.S. legal authorities. We propose a
series of steps that Armenia will need to take to prevent future
transfers, which will be weighed in the consideration of sanctions.
We hope to use the threat of sanctions as a tool to generate
Armenian responsiveness so that we will not be forced to impose
4. (S) The Deputy Secretary is writing to President Sargsian and
indicating that a team will be sent to Armenia to seek written
agreement that Armenia will take steps to ensure that it does not
become a source of weapons for Iran or other states or groups of
concern. The team will also present additional information that
will make clear why the United States is convinced that the
transfers happened and make it unreasonable for Sargsian to continue
his denials. We anticipate that the team will travel to Yerevan in
the coming weeks, to provide sufficient time for the incoming
Administration to be briefed on the situation.
5. (S) Objective: Our objective is to prevent Armenia from
becoming a source of weapons for Iran or other states or groups of
concern, without derailing a possible Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.
Embassy Yerevan should seek to convey the seriousness with which the
United States views this issue and emphasize that the transfer of
arms to Iran and subsequently to terrorists in Iraq, in particular
transfers that resulted in the death of an American serviceman,
cannot be overlooked by the United States.
6. (U) Please contact EUR/PRA Matt Hardiman and ISN/CATR Margaret
Mitchell with any questions or follow-up issues related to this case
and slug any reporting on this issue for ISN and EUR.