US embassy cable - 00HANOI1712

US DOD SEEKS ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION PROGRAM WITH VIETNAM MILITARY

Identifier: 00HANOI1712
Wikileaks: View 00HANOI1712 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Hanoi
Created: 2000-08-10 09:07:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: MASS EAID VM US
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


2000HANOI01712 - UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ8247

PAGE 01        HANOI  01712  01 OF 03  101336Z 
ACTION AID-00   

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AMAD-00  CIAE-00  CTME-00  ITCE-00  SRPP-00  
      EAP-00   EB-00    EXME-00  UTED-00  TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01   
      NSAE-00  OMB-01   OPIC-01  PM-00    SS-00    STR-00   TRSE-00  
      PMB-00   NFAT-00  SAS-00     /003W
                  ------------------786AAB  101404Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0530
SECDEF WASHDC
INFO AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA/J5/J07/J52//
CDRTAMC HONOLULU HI//COE//
USDOE WASHINGTON DC
HQ EPA WASHDC
USDOC WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 001712 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT PASS TO USAID 
DEFENSE FOR PADUSD VEST, LSTERN 
BANGKOK FOR REGIONAL ENVIRONMENT OFFICER 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: MASS, EAID, VM, US 
SUBJECT:  US DOD SEEKS ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION PROGRAM WITH VIETNAM MILITARY 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        HANOI  01712  01 OF 03  101336Z 
SUMMARY 
 
1.  FROM JUL 31-AUG 3, A FOUR-PERSON USDOD TEAM 
VISITED VIETNAM FOR TALKS WITH VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS ON 
ENHANCING COOPERATION ON MILITARY ENVIRONMENT AND 
HEALTH ISSUES.  AGREEMENT WAS REACHED TO CONSIDER U.S. 
SUPPORT TO THE GVN IN EFFORTS TO HOST A REGIONAL 
ENVIRONMENTAL WORKSHOP IN THEIR ROLE AS THE ASEAN 
REGIONAL FORUM (ARF) CHAIRMAN; PURSUE A COOPERATIVE 
EFFORT WITH THE AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN 
VIETNAM (AMCHAM), THE SOCIETY OF AMERICAN MILITARY 
ENGINEERS (SAME), AND THE VIETNAMESE PARTY TO HOLD AN 
ENVIRONMENTAL WORKSHOP OR TRADE FAIR TO DEVELOP 
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION CAPABILITY AND CAPACITY (WITH 
EMPHASIS ON MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS); AND TO 
CONSIDER A SERIES OF JOINT WORKSHOPS ON THE 
COMPREHENSIVE APPROACHES TO DEALING WITH CONTAMINATED 
MILITARY SITES INCLUDING THOSE INVOLVING HERBICIDE 
ORANGE AND TEAR GAS (CS).  US AND VIETNAM OFFICIALS 
WILL FURTHER DEVELOP A FRAMEWORK FOR MILITARY-RELATED 
ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION ACTIVITIES IN THE WEEKS 
AHEAD.  END SUMMARY. 
 
VEST DELEGATION VISIT 
 
2.  FROM JUL 31-AUG 3, A FOUR-PERSON USDOD TEAM 
VISITED VIETNAM FOR TALKS WITH VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS 
REGARDING ENHANCING COOPERATION BETWEEN THE TWO 
GOVERNMENTS ON MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH 
ISSUES. THIS USDOD TEAM ON MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL 
COOPERATION WITH VIETNAM WAS LED BY MR. GARY VEST, 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  01712  01 OF 03  101336Z 
PRINCIPAL ASSISTANT DEPUTY UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE 
FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY, AND INCLUDED 
REPRESENTATIVES FROM HQ USAF, HQ PACAF, AND HQ 
USCINCPAC.  EMBOFF'S INCLUDED DATT AND STE. 
 
3.  PRIOR TO MEETING WITH VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS, THE 
TEAM MET WITH THE AMBASSADOR AND COUNTRY TEAM 
REGARDING THE APPROACH TO TAKE IN ITS DISCUSSIONS. 
THE AMBASSADOR EMPHASIZED THE POLITICAL ASPECTS OF THE 
ALLEGED HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS ACROSS THE 
COUNTRY RESULTING FROM THE USE OF HERBICIDE ORANGE 
(HO).  HE BELIEVES WE NEED TO APPROACH THE VIETNAMESE 
MINISTRY OF DEFENSE WITH SOME CONCRETE INITIATIVES TO 
DEVELOP TRUST AND CONFIDENCE WITHOUT VIOLATING U.S. 
LAW.  THE AMBASSADOR ALSO EXPRESSED HOPE THAT THE TEAM 
WOULD FRAME THIS ISSUE IN THEIR BROADER NATIONAL 
ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH CONTEXTS, AND LOOK FOR WAYS 
TO PROVIDE EXPERTISE TO ENHANCE THE VIETNAMESE 
GOVERNMENT'S INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY TO DEAL WITH ITS 
OWN ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH PROBLEMS. 
 
4. DURING THE VISIT, THE TEAM MET WITH REPRESENTATIVES 
OF THE VIETNAMESE MINISTRIES OF NATIONAL DEFENSE AND 
FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AS WELL AS THE AMERICAN CHAMBER OF 
COMMERCE IN HANOI.  THE TEAM ALSO TRAVELED TO DA NANG 
AIRPORT TO VISIT A SITE SUSPECTED TO BE CONTAMINATED 
WITH HO. 
 
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS MEETING 
 
5. ON AUG 1 THE DELEGATION MET MR. NGUYEN MANH HUNG, 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  01712  01 OF 03  101336Z 
DIRECTOR OF AMERICAS DEPARTMENT, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN 
AFFAIRS.  MR. HUNG ASKED ABOUT HO AND MR. VEST 
EXPLAINED THE US NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENTAL 
HEALTH SCIENCES (NIEHS) EFFORT AND UPCOMING MEETINGS. 
MR. HUNG IS CONCERNED WE WILL ONLY HAVE SCIENTISTS 
LOOK AT THE ISSUES, BUT THE REAL-LIFE ISSUES WILL 
STILL REMAIN AT THE FORMER-U.S. INSTALLATIONS AND THE 
AREAS WHERE HO AND CS WERE EMPLOYED.  MR. HUNG IS ALSO 
CONCERNED WITH POTENTIAL COSTS TO CLEAN UP THE 
CONTAMINATED SITES.  MR. VEST EXPLAINED THE IDEA OF 
LEVERAGING PRIVATE INDUSTRY IN REDEVELOPMENT EFFORTS 
AND SOLICITING SUPPORT OF NGOS.  MR. HUNG AGREED TO 
CONSIDER U.S. SUPPORT TO THE GVN IN EFFORTS TO HOST A 
REGIONAL MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL WORKSHOP IN THEIR ROLE 
AS THE ARF CHAIRMAN.  HE WILL ADDRESS THE ISSUE WITH 
HIS MINISTER AND CONTACT THIS POST WITH THE DECISION. 
 
AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AMCHAM) MEETING 
 
6.  LATER ON AUG 1, THE TEAM MET WITH AMERICAN CHAMBER 
OF COMMERCE (AMCHAM) REPRESENTATIVES.  THEY CONFIRMED 
ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS OF THE COUNTRY IS HIGH.  THEY 
ALSO ADVISED THAT VIETNAM PASSING ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS 
AND DECREES IS VERY SIMPLE.  THE PROBLEM COMES IN 
DEVELOPING IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS AND FUTURE 
ENFORCEMENT OF THE SAME.  AMCHAM CAN PLAY A ROLE IN 
THIS AS A LOBBY/ADVISOR.  THEY CONCUR THAT A WORKSHOP 
OF PRIVATE INDUSTRY, NGOS, AND THE MILITARY WOULD 
BENEFIT VIETNAM, IN FACT, THEY MENTIONED IT WOULD BE 
"IRRESISTIBLE" TO THE BUSINESS SECTOR.  MR. VEST 
DISCUSSED THE POSSIBILITY OF ENLISTING THE SOCIETY OF 
AMERICAN MILITARY ENGINEERS (SAME) AS THE LEAD AGENT 
FOR SUCH A WORKSHOP.  LT COL MILLER, U.S. DEFENSE 
ATTACHE IN HANOI, MENTIONED THE COMMUNIST PARTY MAY BE 
THE MOST APPROPRIATE VIETNAMESE ORGANIZATION TO 
SPONSOR SUCH AN EFFORT, SINCE IT CROSSES GOVERNMENT 
FUNCTIONAL BORDERS.  AMCHAM WILL WORK WITH TDA TO 
BRING THEM INTO THE EFFORT.  AMCHAM RECOMMENDED THE 
WORKSHOP BE TIMED TO FOLLOW CLOSELY AFTER THE SENATE 
RATIFIES THE TRADE AGREEMENT, ANTICIPATED TO BE FIRST 
QUARTER OF CY01.  REALISTICALLY, IT WILL TAKE 12-18 
MONTHS TO ORGANIZE SUCH A WORKSHOP.  THE FIRST STEP IS 
TO IDENTIFY ALL PLAYERS AND START ORGANIZATIONAL 
MEETINGS.  DUSD(ES) WILL COORDINATE THAT EFFORT. 
MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE MEETING 
 
7.  ON AUG 1 THE TEAM MET WITH A NINE-PERSON VIETNAM 
MINISTRY OF DEFENSE TEAM INCLUDING REPRESENTATIVES 
FROM THE SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND ENVIRONMENT 
MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT, THE CHEMICAL COMMAND, THE 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  01712  02 OF 03  100909Z 
MILITARY MEDICINE ACADEMY, AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL 
SECURITY DEPARTMENT.  THE MOD DELEGATION IDENTIFIED 
THE RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND TREATMENT OF HO EFFECTS 
ON HUMANS AS THEIR NUMBER ONE ENVIRONMENTAL PRIORITY. 
THEY REVIEWED THEIR RESEARCH EFFORTS TO DATE. 
(COMMENT:  THIS MEETING WAS THE FIRST TIME THIS POST 
WAS MADE AWARE THAT MOD WAS WORKING THIS ASPECT OF THE 
ISSUE.  END COMMENT).  ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS AND IN A 
FORMAL DOCUMENT THE VIETNAMESE REPRESENTATIVES ASKED 
THE TEAM TO FUND EQUIPMENT, TRAINING, AND STUDIES 
ASSOCIATED WITH RESEARCHING HEALTH EFFECTS ASSOCIATED 
WITH EXPOSURE TO HO AND CLEANUP OF SITES ALLEGEDLY 
CONTAMINATED BY HO AND CS.  THE US TEAM STRESSED 
REPEATEDLY WE COULD NOT FUND SUCH EFFORTS, BUT WOULD 
PROVIDE THE GVN THE INFORMATION WE HAVE ON THE TOPICS. 
THE TWO PARTIES AGREED TO EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITY OF 
HOLDING A SERIES OF JOINT WORKSHOPS ON COMPREHENSIVE 
APPROACHES TO DEALING WITH CONTAMINATED MILITARY 
SITES, INCLUDING THOSE INVOLVING HO AND CS.  THE 
PURPOSE OF THESE WORKSHOPS WOULD BE TO SUPPORT VIETNAM 
MOD EFFORTS IN BUILDING INTERNAL INSTITUTIONAL 
CAPACITY AND CAPABILITY BY PROVIDING AND DISCUSSING 
INFORMATION ON CLEANUP METHODOLOGIES AND AVAILABLE 
SITE INFORMATION.  THE TWO PARTIES PLAN TO RAISE THESE 
ISSUES FURTHER IN THE WEEKS AHEAD WITHIN THEIR RESPECTIVE 
GOVERNMENTS.  THE USDOD WILL PROVIDE A PROPOSED AGENDA 
FOR THE FIRST WORKSHOP WITHIN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS. 
VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS WERE UNANIMOUS IN EXPRESSING 
THEIR APPRECIATION TO THE USG FOR SENDING THE USDOD 
TEAM TO INITIATE MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION. 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  01712  02 OF 03  100909Z 
FIELD VISIT - DA NANG AIRPORT 
 
8. ON AUG 3, THE TEAM TRAVELED TO DA NANG AIRPORT FOR 
A FIRST HAND TOUR OF A PORTION OF THE FORMER US 
AIRBASE SUSPECTED TO BE CONTAMINATED WITH HO.  THE MOD 
DELEGATION SHOWED THE US DELEGATION A LOCATION AT THE 
NORTH END OF THE PARALLEL TAXIWAY WHERE THEY SUSPECT 
THE USAF PERFORMED LOADING, STORAGE, AND AIRCRAFT 
WASHDOWN OPERATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH THE EMPLOYMENT OF 
HO.  (COMMENT:  SOME AREAS WERE OBSERVED TO BE DEVOID 
OF VEGETATION.  END COMMENT).  THE MOD HAS CONTAINED 
THE RUNOFF IN THE AREA WITH A CONCRETE CHANNEL RUNNING 
TO A THREE CHAMBER CONCRETE CATCHMENT BASIN.  THE MOD 
DELEGATION INFORMED USDOD THE CATCHMENT BASIN IS 
ACTUALLY THE RUNOFF FILTRATION SYSTEM CONTAINING 
APPROXIMATELY TEN TONNES OF CARBON.  THE COLLECTION 
AND TREATMENT SYSTEM HAS BEEN IN PLACE APPROXIMATELY 
TWO YEARS AND HAS BEEN EFFECTIVE REMOVING CONTAMINANTS 
TO THE 10-PPT LEVEL.  THE MOD BELIEVES THERE IS 
APPROXIMATELY ONE YEAR OF LIFE LEFT IN THE FILTER AND 
THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THE CARBON 
AFTERWARDS. MR. VEST PROPOSED THAT USDOD COULD ATTEMPT 
TO COLLECT EXISTING INFORMATION IT HAS CONCERNING THE 
SITE AND PROVIDE IT TO THE MOD.  USDOD WOULD COMPILE 
AS MUCH EXISTING DATA AS IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM 
SOURCES SUCH AS UNIT HISTORIES, RECORD SEARCHES, AND 
INTERVIEWS OF KNOWLEDGEABLE PEOPLE.  MR. VEST ALSO 
SUGGESTED THAT USDOD COULD MAKE AVAILABLE EXPERTS AND 
SCIENTISTS FAMILIAR WITH HO AND THE CLEANUP OF HO AT 
AN AIR BASE IN GULFPORT, MS. 
 
SUMMARY MEETING 
 
9.  LATER ON AUG 3, THE TEAM RETURNED TO HANOI TO 
SUMMARIZE FINDINGS AND TO FORM A CONSENSUS ON FUTURE 
ACTIONS.  MR. VEST EXPLAINED THERE ARE LEGAL 
RESTRICTIONS PROHIBITING USDOD FROM ENGAGING IN 
CLEANUP OF FORMER BASES, AND THAT THERE ARE 
RESTRICTION TO WHAT WE CAN PROVIDE IN THE WAY OF 
EQUIPMENT AND CAPITAL WITHIN A MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL 
COOPERATIVE PROGRAM.  HE COMMITTED TO DETERMINING HOW 
MUCH FLEXIBILITY USDOD MAY BE ALLOWED IN THESE 
SPECIFIC SITUATIONS.  THE GROUP AGREED TO CONSIDER AT 
LEAST ONE OR TWO WORKSHOPS.  AT THE WORKSHOPS, THE 
USDOD WOULD PROVIDE INFORMATION ON EQUIPMENT, 
TECHNOLOGY, METHODOLOGY, COSTS, AND EFFICIENCIES 
ASSOCIATED WITH SITE CLEANUPS WITH AN EMPHASIS ON THE 
DA NANG AIRPORT.  USDOD WOULD ALSO DISCUSS THE SHORT-, 
INTERMEDIATE-, AND LONG-TERM ASPECTS OF SITE 
MANAGEMENT AND REVIEW THE EMERGENCY PROCEDURES ALREADY 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  01712  03 OF 03  100939Z 
EMPLOYED.  FOR THIS EXAMPLE AND MODEL BUILDING, WE 
WOULD BRING AS MUCH APPLICABLE EXISTING DATA AS IS A 
SECOND WORKSHOP WOULD BE OF A SIMILAR APPROACH, BUT 
WOULD DISCUSS CS.  THE TWO SIDES AGREED THESE EFFORTS 
NEED TO MOVE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. 
 
10.  PADUSD VEST FOLLOWED UP THE SUMMARY MEETING WITH 
A PRESS CONFERENCE AT THE EMBASSY ANNEX.  MEDIA REACTION 
HAS BEEN REPORTED IN REUTERS NEWS SERVICE AND THE NEW YORK 
TIMES. 
 
CONCLUSION AND COMMENT 
 
11. THE USDOD TEAM VISIT ON MILITARY ENVIRONMENTAL 
COOPERATION WITH VIETNAM LED BY PADUSD VEST WAS A 
SUCCESS AND ACHIEVED A SIGNIFICANT COUNTRY TEAM 
OBJECTIVE.  THE VIETNAM GOVERNMENT APPRECIATES THE 
VISIT AND THE ATTENTION IT SIGNIFIES ON OUR PART. 
VIETNAM IS CONSIDERING THE ENHANCED COOPERATION THAT 
WILL HELP THE COUNTRY ADDRESS ITS ENVIRONMENTAL 
PROBLEMS -- AKEY U.S. OBJECTIVE HERE.  PADUSD VEST 
STRUCK JUST THE RIGHT NOTE IN ALL OF HIS MEETINGS AND 
IN HIS PRESS CONFERENCE.  HE CONVEYED EFFECTIVELY THE 
MESSAGE THAT THE USDOD IS NOT INSENSITIVE TO VIETNAMESE 
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS RELATING TO HO AND CS AND THAT 
WE ARE PREPARED TO COOPERATE TO BUILD VIETNAMESE 
INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY TO MANAGE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, 
INCLUDING THOSE ASSOCIATED WITH HO AND CS.  THE INTER- 
AGENCY TEAM DID NOT OFFER TO CLEAN UP FORMER U.S. 
INSTALLATIONS OR SITES SUSPECTED TO BE CONTAMINATED 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  01712  03 OF 03  100939Z 
WITH HO OR CS. 
 
12.  POST LOOKS FORWARD TO WORKING WITH USDOD AGENCIES 
IN FOLLOWING UP THE VARIOUS COMMITMENTS MADE AND 
IDENTIFYING WAYS TO SUPPORT ENHANCED ENVIRONMENTAL 
COOPERATION WITH VIETNAM. RECOMMEND ALSO THAT CINCPAC 
INCORPORATE THESE ACTIVITIES INTO PACOM'S ENGAGEMENT 
STRATEGY AND PLAN. 
 
PETERSON 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
 


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