08ASTANA2553, KAZAKHSTAN LIKELY TO APPROVE TRANSCOM’S NORTHERN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA2553 2008-12-29 04:27 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO5704
OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHNP RUEHPW RUEHROV
RUEHSR
DE RUEHTA #2553/01 3640427
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 290427Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4216
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY 0977
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0378
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 1084
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY 0549
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY 0452
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 2445

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 002553 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN 
CENTCOM FOR TRANSCOM 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/29/2023 
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN LIKELY TO APPROVE TRANSCOM'S NORTHERN 
DISTRIBUTION NETWORK IN JANUARY 
 
REF: A. ASTANA 2457 
     B. ASTANA 2384 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland:  1.4 (A), (B), (D) 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  Kazahkstan is close to making a positive 
decision to participate in TRANSCOM'S Northern Distribution 
Network.  On December 26, Security Council Secretary Kairbek 
Suleymenov said he would instruct his staff immediately to 
draft a decision memo for President Nursultan Nazarbayev. 
Given the winter holidays, we probably cannot expect this 
decision until early in January.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C) The Ambassador and DATT met with Security Council 
Secretary Kairbek Suleymenov and Deputy Secretary Nurlan 
Abdirov on December 26 for over an hour to press for a 
soonest possible decision to allow TRANSCOM's Northern 
Distribution Network (NDN) to pass through Kazakhstan.  As 
Abdirov had requested previously, the Ambassador provided 
TRANSCOM's lists of the 50 most common building supplies and 
50 most common provisions that TRANSCOM ships to troops, 
noting, as previously mentioned, TRANSCOM would be willing to 
consider purchasing some of these supplies in Kazakhstan, and 
could send an experts' team to Kazakhstan after the turn of 
the year for this purpose.  He emphasized the urgency of 
Kazakhstan's "green light" by explaining that a significant 
number of additional U.S. troops will arrive in Afghanistan 
during the first quarter of 2009 and will have to be supplied 
and provisioned; preparation for this increase must begin 
immediately.  He added that Kazakhstan is the last piece of 
the NDN puzzle, since Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Russia are 
already on board -- all we need is "yes," and the logistical 
flow can start. 
 
3.  (C) Thanking the Ambassador for the lists, Suleymenov 
quipped that purchasing goods in Kazakhstan would not solve 
the current economic crisis but is politically important in 
Kazakhstan's decision-making process.  In fact, Suleymenov 
appeared not especially well briefed on NDN, and at one point 
confused the NATO military transit agreement with NDN.  He 
wanted to know what kind of formal, legal agreements the 
United States had entered into with other transit agreement 
partners.  The Ambassador responded there are no formal 
agreements; in Azerbaijan, for example, the word of President 
Ilhom Aliyev had been sufficient.  At times, Suleymenov 
seemed inordinately interested in details, wanting to know 
how the roughly 10,000 residential containers waiting to be 
shipped to Afghanistan had arrived in Baku and what was their 
point of origin.  He also worried whether Kazakhstan would 
have enough rail cars to handle the flow of goods.  When he 
continued to evidence confusion exactly what the U.S. 
government means by a commercial arrangement, the Ambassador 
assured him that the only role of the U.S. government will be 
to pay commercial contractors for their goods and services -- 
"no boots on the ground."  In answer to another question, the 
Ambassador emphasized that the commercial logistical 
companies TRANSCOM would employ would indeed pay all tariffs, 
taxes, and follow all local laws. 
 
4.  (C) In the end, Suleymenov was positive, noting that 
every element of the government of Kazakhstan sees NDN as a 
political decision and not an opportunity to profit 
commercially.  He said clearly Astana understands the 
political importance of NDN and implied Kazakhstan does not 
want to be "odd man out."  He said he would instruct his 
staff to draft immediately a recommendation to President 
Nazarbayev.  He said clearly the decision would not depend on 
pre-agreement to purchase goods in Kazakhstan, since "that 
could take 10 years and the war would then be long over." 
 
5.  (C) COMMENT:  Given that half the government is on 
vacation for the winter holidays, we do not expect a final 
decision until sometime early in January; but when the 
decision comes, we expect it to be positive.  While we have 
briefed Deputy Secretary Abdirov and many other senior 
officials repeatedly on the details of NDN since TRANSCOM CDR 
General McNabb's November 21 visit to Astana, and while we 
 
ASTANA 00002553  002 OF 002 
 
 
would think a purely commercial arrangement should be the 
simplest of all decisions, this entire long-drawn-out process 
illustrates how ponderous Kazakhstan's presidential 
decision-making can be.  END COMMENT. 
HOAGLA ND

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