US embassy cable - 89ABUDHABI3092

POSSIBLE SOVIET ARMS SALES TO IRAN

Identifier: 89ABUDHABI3092
Wikileaks: View 89ABUDHABI3092 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abu Dhabi
Created: 1989-06-08 06:53:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: PARM PINR IR UR
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 080653Z JUN 89
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3927
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
CJTFME
GULFWAR COLLECTIVE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ABU DHABI 03092 
 
E. O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PARM, PINR, IR, UR 
SUBJECT:  POSSIBLE SOVIET ARMS SALES TO IRAN 
 
REF:  STATE 176500 
 
1.  (S - ENTIRE TEXT) 
 
2.  SUMMARY.  UAE GOVERNMENT AGREES THAT POSSIBLE 
SOVIET ARMS SALE TO IRAN WOULD BE UNHELPFUL, BUT 
THEY ARE DUBIOUS THAT THEY CAN HAVE MUCH WEIGHT 
IN PREVENTING IT.  MOREOVER, THEY ARE CONCERNED 
ABOUT DRAWING IRANIAN ENMITY.  LINGERING EFFECTS 
OF U.S.-IRAN ARMS SALE SCANDAL AFFECT THEIR 
WILLINGNESS TO RAISE ISSUE WITH SOVIETS.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
3.  IN CONJUNCTION WITH BRIEFINGS ON IRAN BY 
INR/CENTCOM TEAM, AMBASSADOR MADE POINTS IN REFTEL, 
MODIFIED TO ACCOUNT FOR PROBABLE POSTPONEMENT OF 
RAFSANJANI VISIT TO MOSCOW UNTIL AFTER 40-DAY 
MOURNING PERIOD FOR KHOMEINI.  IN TALKS WITH 
PRESIDENTIAL COURT CHAMBERLAIN SHEIKH SUROUR AND 
TOP FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIAL IN COUNTRY, 
AMBASSADOR PRESSED VIEW THAT KHOMEINI'S DEATH 
MAKES ARMS SALES BY SOVIETS OR ANYONE ELSE PARTICU- 
LARLY DESTABILIZING.  AT TIME OF INTERNAL POWER 
STRUGGLE, IT IS ESSENTIAL TO TRY TO FOCUS IRANIAN 
ENERGIES ON ECONOMIC RECONSTRUCTION AND NOT TO 
ENCOURAGE FACTIONS WHICH MAY SEEK WEAPONS WITH 
IDEA OF EVENTUALLY RESUMING WAR WITH IRAQ AND 
ATTACKS ON SHIPPING. 
 
4.  SHEIKH SUROUR LISTENED PATIENTLY BUT WAS 
CLEARLY NOT ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT RAISING THIS ISSUE 
WITH THE SOVIETS.  HE TOOK THE LINE THAT ANY SOVIET 
ARMS IRAN COULD NOW AFFORD WERE UNLIKELY TO BE IN 
SUFFICIENT QUANTITIES TO RECTIFY CURRENT IMBALANCE 
FAVORABLE TO IRAQ.  THUS IT WOULD NOT LEAD TO A 
RESUMPTION OF THE WAR.  AS FOR LONG-TERM SOVIET 
INFLUENCE, HE SAID, IRANIANS WILL NOT BE SUSCEPTIBLE. 
HE CLAIMED THAT IRANIANS ARE BASICALLY PRO-WESTERN 
AND THAT THEIR ECONOMIC INTERESTS ALSO TIE THEM TO 
THE WEST.  SOVIETS, HE THOUGHT, WERE ONLY DOING WHAT 
GREAT POWERS WILL ALWAYS DO --SERVING THEIR INTERESTS. 
IN THIS CASE, HE THOUGHT, IT WOULD BE ONLY OF SHORT- 
TERM SIGNIFICANCE.  IF, HE CHALLENGED, THE U.S. 
ENJOYED GOOD RELATIONS WITH IRAN, AS THE SOVIET 
UNION TEMPORARILY DOES, WOULD IT NOT SELL ARMS TO 
THEM? 
 
5.  WE PRESSED IDEA THAT ARMS SALES COULD INDEED 
BE VERY DESTABILIZING DUE TO CURRENT POLITICAL 
TURMOIL.  THE SALE OF ARMS BY ANY SOURCE --SOVIET 
UNION, CHINA, WESTERN EUROPE STATES, OR FOR THAT 
MATTER THE U.S.-- WOULD SERVE TO ENCOURAGE THE 
ELEMENTS THAT SEEK TO EXPAND THE REVOLUTION AND 
REARM TO RESUME WAR WITH IRAQ.  RESPONSIBLE GOVERN- 
MENTS SHOULD BE DOING ALL THEY CAN TO FOCUS IRANIAN 
ENERGIES ON ECONOMIC RECONSTRUCTION. 
 
6.  DURING OUR CALL ON YACOUB AL-KINDI AT MFA WE 
GOT A MORE RESERVED RESPONSE.  AL-KINDI AGREED THAT 
WE NEEDED TO BE VERY CAUTIOUS BUT THOUGHT IT TOO 
EARLY TO REACH ANY CONCLUSION ABOUT POLICIES 
TOWARD IRAN.  WE SHOULD WATCH TO SEE HOW MATTERS 
DEVELOP.  HE ACCEPTED A NON-PAPER SUMMARIZING 
AMBASSADOR'S DEMARCHE AND AGREED TO BRIEF FOREIGN 
MINISTER RASHID ABDULLA AND UNDERSECRETARY HAMDAN 
BIN ZAYED UPON THEIR RETURNS FROM FOREIGN TRAVEL. 
 
7.  COMMENT:  THE LEGACY OF THE U.S.-IRAN ARMS 
SCANDAL STILL BURDENS OUR DIALOGUE WITH SHEIKH 
SUROUR ON THIS ISSUE.  HE HAD BEEN PERSONALLY 
ACTIVE IN PRESSING THE SOVIET UNION AND CHINA TO 
COOPERATE WITH OPERATION STAUNCH.  IN THE WAKE OF 
IRANGATE REVELATIONS HE FELT POLITICALLY EMBARRASSED 
AND EXPOSED AS AN UNWITTING TOOL OF USG DECEPTION. 
SUROUR HAS NO DOUBT THAT IF THE SOVIET UNION IS 
PERSUADED NOT TO SELL ARMS TO IRAN, IT WILL TELL 
THE IRANIANS IT CANNOT DO SO BECAUSE OF U.S. AND 
ARAB PROTESTS.  MOREOVER, HE VIEWS IRANIAN HEGEMONY 
OVER THE GULF AS A NATURAL STATE OF AFFAIRS.  IN 
THE LONG TERM, HE BELIEVES THAT IRAN WILL RETURN 
TO BOTH SANITY AND STRENGTH AND WILL THEN PLAY A 
STABILIZING ROLE.  IN SHORT, IRAN WILL HELP DEFEND 
THE AREA FROM THE SOVIETS.  IN THE SHORT-TERM, HE 
BELIEVES USG HAS SHOWN IT WILL HELP DEFEND THE GULF 
AGAINST REVOLUTIONARY IRAN.  THAT BEING THE CASE, 
HE APPEARS TO BELIEVE, WHY SHOULD THE U.A.E. RUN 
MORE THAN NECESSARY RISKS WITH IRAN?  FOR NOW, AT 
LEAST, HE PUTS A U.A.E. DEMARCHE TO THE SOVIETS IN 
THE CATEGORY OF UNNECESSARY RISKS. 
 
 
MACK 

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