Geheimes Wikileaks-Dokument

Bericht des österreichischen Botschafters

Reference ID Date Classification Origin

09UNVIE VIENNA553

2009-12-09 13:01 CONFIDENTIAL UNVIE
 
	VZCZCXRO1474
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHTRO
DE RUEHUNV #0553/01 3431343
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 091343Z DEC 09
FM USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0393
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHII/VIENNA IAEA POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA IMMEDIATE 1500
	C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 UNVIE VIENNA 000553 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/09/2023 
TAGS: PREL IR AU AORC KNNP
SUBJECT: AUSTRIAN AMBASSADOR TO IRAN DESCRIBES ELECTIONS AS 
DRIVING TEHRAN ENVIRONMENT 
 
REF: UNVIE 544 
 
Classified By: DCM Geoff Pyatt for reasons 1.4 (c) and (e) 
 
1.  (C)   Summary.  On December 3, former Austrian Ambassador 
to Tehran Michael Postl (please protect) debriefed MsnOff on 
his final calls on Iranian officials as he left post.  He 
noted that former Presidents Khatami and Rafsanjani both had 
extracted themselves from the normal political scene and were 
focused on tangential issues where their weight could still 
be felt.  Nevertheless, Rafsanjani suggested that it would be 
helpful if the West spoke out against the election fraud and 
human rights violations that followed. 
 
2.  (C)   Postl said that President Ahmadinejad's chief of 
cabinet, Mashaie, made clear to him prior to the Geneva talks 
that Iran was planning to approach the talks with a spirit of 
compromise and that Postl would be "surprised" by Iran's 
attitude.  Postl explained the lack of follow-through in the 
wake of the talks as a probable decision by Supreme Leader 
Khamenei that the West was not trustworthy or that Iran could 
get more from the P5 plus 1 than the six offered in Geneva. 
Majles Speaker Larijani's outspoken disapproval of the Tehran 
Research Reactor deal advocated by Ahmadinejad could have 
been an exercise of Larijani's first opportunity to undermine 
Ahmadinejad after he was pressured to disavow himself of 
knowledge that Iranian prisoners were being raped in jail, 
which lost him credibility with the Iranian public.  Finally, 
Postl argued that the U.S. should focus its outreach to Iran 
on formats that Iranians perceive are less biased, such as 
BBC Persian's version of Hardtalk or Press TV.  End Summary. 
 
3.  (C)   On December 3, former Austrian Ambassador to Tehran 
Michael Postl gave MsnOff a readout of the state of domestic 
political wranglings in Tehran prior to his departure from 
post in October.  Now posted in Vienna, Postl noted that he 
still advises the Austrian government on Iran issues and that 
he was recently asked to see if his contacts in Iran would 
meet with him even though he had departed post.  Many said 
that they would, so he may be asked by the Austrian Foreign 
Ministry to return to Iran periodically to make use of the 
excellent contacts he was afforded given his Farsi skills and 
native Iranian wife. 
 
4.  (C)   Postl recounted his final calls on contacts in Iran 
before leaving post, noting that many who had refused 
meetings with him after the elections were now willing to 
meet him.  When he met with former President Khatami, Khatami 
noted that because of the post-election environment, it did 
not make sense to talk about politics.  Postl suggested that 
they discuss the possibility of Khatami pursuing a dialogue 
of civilizations or religions that might give him an opening 
to the West.  Khatami noted that he did want to focus more on 
that kind of dialogue and engagement and that he might come 
to Austria next year in pursuit of such discussions. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
Final Calls Reveal Disillusionment with the 
Possibilities for Change 
------------------------------------------- 
 
5.  (C)   Postl noted that in his final calls, he sought out 
a meeting with the new health minister, Marzieh Vahid 
Dastjerdi since he was interested in meeting the Islamic 
Republic's first female minister.  Postl described her as 
"sort of a puppet" and very insecure despite her good 
credentials for the job.  She is a member of the Larijani 
family, giving this influential clan placement in the 
executive branch, in addition to the leverage they hold 
through the key posts of Ali Larijani as Majles Speaker and 
Javad Larijani as head of the Judiciary.  In their meeting, 
Dastjerdi and Postl discussed possible cooperation between 
Iran and Austria in hospitals, training, and person-to-person 
contacts in the medical field. 
 
6.  (C)   Postl also called on the powerful new chief of 
President Ahmadinejad's cabinet, Mashaie.  Postl said that 
many believed that Mashaie's rejection for a vice 
presidential post showed that there were disagreements 
between Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader, but the fact that 
he was given the slot as head of the cabinet means that 
Khamenei must not be fundamentally opposed to him.  Postl was 
candid with Mashaie, noting that although the Iranian 
elections were an internal matter, the treatment of civilians 
in the aftermath of the elections was wrong by any 
calculation.  Postl assessed that using Farsi instead of 
English made a difference in the reaction he received to this 
candor, and Mashaie said that he would be pleased to meet 
with Postl again if he were in Iran. 
 
 
UNVIE VIEN 00000553  002 OF 004 
 
 
7.  (C)   In what Postl believes was the first meeting former 
President Rafsanjani had granted to a Westerner -- and 
perhaps the first meeting with a foreigner -- since the 
elections, the two discussed economic cooperation, which 
Rafsanjani said was his primary focus.  They avoided the 
topics of the election and the nuclear issue, especially 
given the presence of 10 to 15 "watchers" from different 
veins of the Iranian government.  Rafsanjani was very 
interested in non-nuclear energy cooperation and asked very 
detailed questions about wind energy, which Postl said 
Austria would be able to help with.  Rafsanjani also 
discussed his sense of how the Iranian government could 
evolve, arguing that change must come from within Iran and 
that interference from foreigners was not welcome in most 
circumstances.  Nevertheless, Rafsanjani believed that the 
best help possible from foreigners would be to say that the 
elections were not fair and to note the human rights 
violations in the aftermath, though he was not specific about 
what he thought the influence of such statements would be. 
Postl noted that recent months clearly had been hard on 
Rafsanjani; he looked pale and had lost a lot of weight, but 
his eyes were still "active," according to Postl. 
 
8.  (C)   Postl described the positions of presidential 
candidates Karrubi and Musavi as children of the revolution 
and argued that neither of them wants systemic change. 
Rather, they hoped to give Iran a "human face."  Since the 
"population of Iran," according to Postl, opposes the Islamic 
system, the people are not very strongly behind either of 
these candidates.  In closing out his comments on his final 
meetings in Tehran, Postl noted that after he departed post, 
his contacts were questioned thoroughly and aggressively, 
which Postl described as a reality of life in Iran and 
contact with a Westerner. 
 
-------------------------------- 
Infighting and Confusion Driving 
the Nuclear Issue 
-------------------------------- 
 
9.  (C)   In his discussions at the end of September with 
Mashaie, Postl encouraged him to ensure that Iran did not 
"miss the opportunity" presented by the talks in Geneva. 
Mashaie responded that Iran would be "sure to take" advantage 
of this opportunity and told Postl that Postl would be 
surprised at Iran's approach, that Iran would come with 
seriousness and an attitude of compromise.  Postl's 
assessment is that Iran decided that this was the right time 
to show flexibility in order to get an agreement, especially 
since Ahmadinejad wants to claim responsibility for an 
agreement with the West.  Postl believes that Nuclear 
Negotiator Jalili came to Geneva with this spirit of 
compromise and was following direction, presumably from 
Ahmadinejad.  Iran's failure to follow through on these 
agreements may have been due to a decision by Khamenei either 
that the West was not trustworthy despite Iran's supposed 
good intentions or that Iran could get more from the West or 
P5 plus 1 than was offered in Geneva.  Despite the fact that 
people close to the President say he wants "more," the system 
gets in the way as do Ahmadinejad's bad advisers.  Postl's 
interlocutors say that if Ahmadinejad alone were to decide 
about engagement with the West, "things would move more 
quickly."  Postl noted that Khamenei is still respected in 
Iran and, in his personal opinion, there is no essential 
divergence between the Supreme Leader and Ahmadinejad.  On 
issues where the Supreme Leader's opinions were clear, Postl 
argued that other influential Iranians would not "touch on 
issues," even to undercut Ahmadinejad.  The only way to 
challenge these leaders was to focus on "unjust" or 
un-Islamic behavior. 
 
10.  (C)   Postl said that Majles Speaker Larijani probably 
was not in favor of the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) deal, 
but when MsnOff questioned whether he really opposed the deal 
or was responding to the fact that Ahmadinejad came out in 
favor of the deal, Postl recounted another possibility tied 
to the post-election environment.  Postl noted that he had 
asked someone close to Larijani whether he was aware of the 
rapes of election-related prisoners.  The interlocutors said 
that not only was Larijani aware, but all officials were 
aware of what was going on inside the prison.  Nevertheless, 
when Larijani spoke publicly about the issue, he stated 
clearly that the rapes are not occurring and thus lost some 
credibility with the Iranian public.  To have not given a 
more ambiguous response, such as that he would look into the 
situation, Larijani must have been under strong pressure from 
above, in Postl's estimation.  Given the clarity that what 
Ahmadinejad had done after the election was wrong and 
Larijani's distaste for Ahmadinejad, the TRR proposal may 
have been Larijani's first opportunity to strike back at 
 
UNVIE VIEN 00000553  003 OF 004 
 
 
Ahmadinejad. 
 
11.  (C)   Postl also noted that Iran probably has whiplash 
from the international community's response to the Fordow 
Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP), which will complicate our 
efforts to press Iran into compliance with its obligations. 
Although IAEA Director General ElBaradei said after the first 
inspection of the FFEP that it was nothing more than "a hole 
in a mountain," the IAEA Board of Governors passed a 
resolution against Iran, citing the FFEP as one of its main 
points (ref A). Postl argued that this probably leads Iran to 
believe that the international community is not serious about 
the issue, and that, rather, this is "a game." 
 
12.  (C)   One of Postl's contacts close to the Supreme 
Leader pointed him to a Kayhan article from December 1, 
written by editor Shariatmadari, which espouses the views of 
Khamenei on the nuclear issue.  The article argues that Iran 
has gotten nothing from cooperation and should withdraw from 
the NPT immediately.  Since Khamenei has said that he is not 
opposed to an opening with the U.S., it becomes about 
Washington presenting the right arguments at the right time. 
However, Postl said that bringing up the issue of the 
detained Americans at Geneva probably fell flat with the 
Iranians.  Iranian officials told Postl that they were 
surprised that American officials raised this issue at those 
talks.  This was the wrong time to bring up this issue, Postl 
argued, since these issues are not connected in the minds of 
the Iranians.  (We will explain to the Austrians why this 
issue is so important and resonates so much to the U.S.) 
Postl suggested that the UK model was better:  when their 
sailors were captured, UK officials said that this issue had 
nothing to do with the political problems between the two 
countries.  The dissociation of the issues worked in favor of 
getting the sailors released.  Pressed on when might be such 
a right time to address the U.S. detainees, Postl suggested 
that one such way might have been to capitalize on the 
October 1 Geneva talks by following up quickly with a call 
from Under Secretary Burns to Jalili "in the spirit of 
Geneva."  During that phone call, Burns could engage Jalili 
on the detainee issue as an aside.  Postl also noted that 
some of his Iranian government contacts had noted with 
pleasure the appointment of Ambassador Limbert to deal with 
the Iranian file given his understanding of Iran. 
 
---------------------------- 
Postl's Tehran Retrospective 
---------------------------- 
 
13.  (C)   Looking back on his tenure as Ambassador to Iran, 
Postl noted that the biggest "game changer" had been this 
past summer's presidential elections.  The events were 
causing backlash from much of the population.  Parents and 
grandparents were saying, according to Postl, that they do 
not want their children to be forced to experience the same 
Iran that they, themselves, have been living under for the 
last 30 years.  For the first time, one can see "kill 
Khamenei" and "death to Khamenei" scrawled on walls in 
Tehran.  These direct challenges to Khamenei's authority are 
new and significant.  Additionally, Postl expects that the 
population was disillusioned by the overwhelming fraud in the 
elections and many will not vote in the future. 
 
14.  (C)   On engagement, Postl suggested that some ways 
forward for the U.S. and Iran might be to look into using a 
route from Chah Bahar, on Iran's southern coast, to get U.S. 
supplies into Afghanistan and using the assumption of office 
by new IAEA Director General Amano to press for "a new start" 
on the Additional Protocol and additional transparency 
measures discussions. 
 
15.  (C)   Postl reiterated his message that Iranian citizens 
see the Voice of America (VOA) as biased and asked that we 
not underestimate their frustration.  If they see a pervasive 
media outlet as biased, this presents the U.S. in a negative 
light and works against U.S. messaging. He said that Iranians 
currently are faced with two biased choices: VOA and Iranian 
Broadcasting (IRIB).  In response to a MsnOff question about 
how BBC Persian is perceived, he noted that it is seen as 
more neutral, but has the stigma of being associated with the 
UK.  Postl floated the idea of U.S. support to Euro News to 
start broadcasting in Farsi.  He also suggested that doing 
Hardtalk in Persian might be one of the best outlets for U.S. 
arguments since the format of pitting opposing viewpoints 
against one another would counteract the perception of bias, 
but suggested that if our arguments to the Iranian people are 
not convincing, this quickly would become clear.  Finally, 
Postl noted that the U.S. should not shy away from interviews 
with Iranian media outlets, suggesting Press TV because it is 
in English and it is watched in Tehran.  A program built 
 
UNVIE VIEN 00000553  004 OF 004 
 
 
around broadcasting the differing opinions of the U.S., India 
(because its opinion is well-respected given its influence as 
a leader in the Nonaligned Movement), and Iran might be a 
useful way to get our messages across while counteracting 
perceptions of bias. 
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