US embassy cable - 02TEGUCIGALPA1780


Identifier: 02TEGUCIGALPA1780
Wikileaks: View 02TEGUCIGALPA1780 at
Origin: Embassy Tegucigalpa
Created: 2002-06-18 20:19:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
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.

E.O. 12958:  DECL: 06/17/22 
Classified by PolChief Francisco Palmieri, Reasons 1.5 
(b) and (d). 
1.  (U) Summary:  In 1993, the U.S. entered into an 
agreement with GOH regarding the maintenance of the radar 
located at Cerro La Mole.  The U.S. agreed to pay 75% of 
all maintenance costs up to a limit of $400,000 per year, 
while the GOH agreed to pay 25% of the maintenance costs, 
in addition to the manpower needed to maintain the radar. 
To date, the U.S. has paid nothing under the agreement, 
while the GOH has paid for all maintenance costs of the 
equipment.  U.S. noncompliance with the agreement 
increasingly is becoming an issue in bilateral relations 
between the U.S. military and the Honduran Armed Forces 
(HOAF).  The radar equipment is part of an integrated 
counterdrug radar architecture in the region, and post 
seeks guidance on how to resolve the unsettled issue of 
the U.S.'s obligations under the agreement. End Summary. 
2.  (U) In 1993 the U.S. and GOH signed a Memorandum of 
Understanding between the Government of the Republic of 
Honduras and the Government of the United States of 
America for the Expansion of the Radar Located in Cerro 
La Mole in the Caribbean Basin Radar Network (MOU).  The 
purpose of the MOU was to reaffirm the cooperation of the 
two governments in the international battle against 
narcotics trafficking by expanding the radar capability 
of the region as set forth in the Caribbean Basin Radar 
Network agreement (CBRN) signed by the U.S. and the GOH 
April 7, 1989.  The MOU was designed to integrate the 
Cerro La Mole radar (hereinafter referred to as "the 
radar") into the operations of the CBRN. 
3.  (U) The core provisions of the MOU are as follows: 
-The radar is owned and operated by the GOH. 
-The costs of operation and maintenance of the radar are 
to be borne by the GOH. 
-The U.S. will have unrestricted access to the data from 
the radar except in the case of a Honduran national 
emergency (GOH will notify the U.S. in such instance). 
Likewise, the U.S. will provide the HOAF access to data 
from the U.S. owned radar on Calentura Hill. 
-The U.S. and the GOH will develop a joint operations 
plan for the operation of the radar. 
-The U.S. will provide spare parts support and technical 
assistance valued at a maximum of $400,000 per year, with 
the GOH responsible for no less than 25 percent of the 
total spare parts/technical assistance costs each year. 
-Materials, equipment and services imported into Honduras 
by the U.S. in connection with the operation and 
maintenance of the radars are duty-free and exempt from 
-The GOH will provide land for installation of 
communication equipment needed to operate the radars. 
-The GOH has an option to purchase the U.S. installed 
equipment at a price set by the parties pursuant to the 
U.S. Foreign Military Sales Procedures during the 
effective dates of the agreement. 
-The financial obligations of the parties under the MOU 
are subject to the availability of authorized and 
appropriated funds of the parties. 
-The MOU is effective from the date the parties exchanged 
notes indicating that their respective constitutional 
requirements have been met and remains in force until 
April 7, 2009. 
-The MOU may be extended by written agreement of the 
parties, and may be terminated at any time by either 
party upon one-year written notice to the other party. 
Within the one-year period preceding the termination of 
the MOU, the U.S. may remove any U.S. installed equipment 
that the GOH has not purchased. 
4.  (C) The U.S. has not paid any of the maintenance 
costs for the radar, as required in the MOU.  Simply 
stated, this is a source of tension between the HOAF 
and the U.S. military personnel working in Honduras. 
Additionally, it creates a diplomatic uncertainty for the 
U.S. mission and the GOH.  The resulting discomfort stems 
from a variety of sources. 
-Presumably the MOU is a legally binding contract entered 
into by two sovereign nations.  The U.S. has a 
responsibility to abide by its terms. 
-The U.S. military conducts a significant number of 
engagement activities with the HOAF in Honduras. 
Relations between the two militaries are adversely 
affected by the fact that the U.S. has not performed 
under the MOU. 
-It is difficult to enforce proper end use of U.S. 
training and equipment when HOAF officials repeatedly 
point to the U.S.'s failure to abide by a properly 
executed MOU. 
-The MOU issue is repeatedly raised by the HOAF and, 
therefore, takes up an inordinate amount of time and 
5.  (U) More and more frequently, Honduran waters are 
used by narcotraffickers for transshipment of drugs from 
Columbia to the U.S.  The U.S. regularly asks the GOH to 
assist in the drug war.  The radar at Cerro La Mole is a 
part of an integrated counterdrug radar architecture in 
the SOUTHCOM area of responsibility.  According to U.S. 
military officials here in Honduras, there is essentially 
a "hole" in the U.S. radar capability in the Western 
Hemisphere.  The Cerro La Mole radar would, if 
functional, fill that void and foster counterdrug efforts 
in the region.  In this sense, the radar could serve a 
useful purpose in support of U.S. interests in the 
6.  (U)  The funding for payment of the U.S. obligation 
to provide 75% of the radar maintenance cost apparently 
exists--at least in theory.  $400,000 is budgeted each 
fiscal year and routed to Air Combat Command.  However, 
it is apparently unlawful to utilize these funds for the 
maintenance of the radar for two reasons.  First of all, 
counterdrug money cannot fund recurring maintenance costs 
of equipment not owned by the U.S.  Secondly, Air Combat 
Command is prohibited from paying recurring maintenance 
costs of assets that do not belong to the U.S.  As a 
result, the $400,000 is turned back unused each year. 
7.  (U) Post seeks guidance as to the appropriate 
resolution of this ongoing issue.  There are several 
potential solutions: 
-Keep the pact in place and take the steps necessary to 
make the funding available for its intended purpose-- 
thereby honoring the original bargain.  It is difficult 
to predict the cost of this option, but it is safe to say 
that the GOH has not spent anything close to the amount 
that would require the U.S. to pay $400,000 per year for 
the relevant MOU time frame. 
-Negotiate a lump-sum buy-out of the U.S. obligation 
under the MOU.  This might cost anywhere between $400,000 
and $3.6 million, according to our military sources. 
-Pursuant to the terms of the MOU, notify the GOH of the 
U.S.'s intention to terminate the MOU--then follow 
-Take the official position that, due to the funding 
predicament, Article IX of the MOU eliminates the U.S.'s 
responsibility for maintenance costs under the MOU. 
Taking this stance, one must argue that U.S. financial 
obligations have always been legally non-existent. 
-Enter into negotiations with the GOH in order to 
extricate the U.S. from the MOU.  Post's recommendation 
briefly described below is one way of accomplishing this 
8.  (C)  Post maintains that it is in the best interest 
of the U.S. to amicably resolve the U.S. obligations 
pursuant to the MOU.  Post recommends that we negotiate 
an end to the MOU, while at the same time ensuring that 
both U.S. and Honduran interests are addressed.  One 
possible solution is to offer to GOH the opportunity to 
participate in the Cooperating Nations Intelligence 
Exchange System (CNIES).  CNIES is a system based in Key 
West and operated by the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force 
East (JIATFE).  It provides images of portions of the 
Western Hemisphere.  CNIES is a system in which the GOH 
is very interested, and post believes that if it were 
possible to provide the GOH access to CNIES, the GOH 
might well agree to relinquish any claims against the 
U.S. under the MOU.  This option would solve the U.S.'s 
dilemma with respect to the MOU, and at the same time 
would provide beneficial information (particularly in 
terms of counter-drug efforts) to the GOH.  Additionally, 
it is noteworthy that this option would cost the U.S. 
virtually nothing. 

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