Senator Whitehouse’s Appearance in Wikileaks
So far, I’ve only found a single reference in the recently released batch of Wikileaks diplomatic cables to a member of Rhode Island’s Federal Congressional delegation, in a report on a February 2009 meeting involving Syrian President Bashar al-Asad and RI Junior Senator Sheldon Whitehouse among others, where Senator Whitehouse takes a reasonably hard-line on the development of Iranian nuclear weapons…
P6. (C) Senator Whitehouse raised Iran, agreeing with Senator Cardin’s assessment of the new political terrain and asserting: “We have a moment of opportunity for new policies.” Whitehouse cautioned Asad that it was also “a time for choices.” The manner in which the U.S. would proceed depended on “honest, sustained cooperation in the region,” he said. The senator emphasized the time-frame for this cooperation was quite short. The one thing that could bring it to a premature close would be Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. “If Iran insists,” Senator Whitehouse stated, “it will create an atmosphere challenging for negotiations.”
P7. (C) Asad swiftly responded, “we’re not convinced Iran is developing nuclear weapons.” He argued Iran could not use a nuclear weapon as a deterrent because nobody believed Iran would actually use it against Israel. Asad noted an Iranian nuclear strike against Israel would result in massive Palestinian casualties, which Iran would never risk.
P8. (C) …Asad asserted demands for Iran to “stop” its nuclear program were unproductive and a violation of its rights under the [Non-Proliferation Treaty]. Instead, he said, “the argument should be about how to monitor their program,” as outlined in the NPT. “Without this monitoring,” Asad warned, “there will be confrontation, and it will be difficult for the whole region.” Asad leaned slightly forward and said: “Let’s work together on this point.”
P9. (C) Senator Whitehouse replied, “I hope monitoring is enough,” noting the difficulty of such a project in a closed society such as Iran. Asad responded an international system for monitoring was in place and should be followed…
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