While it appears that the government has few issues with the development and validation of a security plan, the risk that the UPA government's opponents might use the image of U.S. officials tramping around the Indian head of state's plane to garner votes in the upcoming general elections has made the Indians nervous.

155283, 5/23/2008 12:37, 08 NEWDELHI 1409, Embassy New Delhi, CONFIDENTIAL,, "VZCZCXYZ0000OO RUEHWEBDE RUEHNE #1409 1441237ZNY CCCCC ZZHO 231237Z MAY 08FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHITO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1859INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDCRHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DCRUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDCRHEHNSC/NSC WASHDCRUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDCRUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 1475RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 6446","C O N F I D E N T I A L NEW DELHI 001409

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2018 TAGS: PREL, PARM, TSPL, KNNP, ETTC, ENRG, TRGY, IN SUBJECT: NARAYANAN POINTS TO INSPECTIONS AS STICKING POINT IN VVIP AIRCRAFT

Classified By: Ambassador David Mulford for Reasons 1.4 (B and D)

1. (C) The Ambassador urged Indian National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan May 23 to use the May 28-29 visit by a delegation led by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Mitchell Shivers to resolve quickly the enhanced end-use monitoring (EEUM) issue related to the Low-Aircraft Infrared Counter Measures (LAIRCM) on the VVIP aircraft. The EEUM matter had high-level attention, the Ambassador underlined, and PDASD Shivers had instructions to preserve the sanctity of the sensitive components while respecting India's political sensitivities. The Ambassador outlined that resolution of the EEUM issue involves the negotiation of a security plan that details the parameters of the protective measures that the Indians will employ; validation that the Indian government has complied with the security plan; and periodic on-site inspections. ""You ought to have an interest in preserving the technology that protects your leaders and other leaders,"" the Ambassador encouraged.

2. (C) Narayanan agreed that the Indian government had a stake in protecting the LAIRCM's technology, and he recognized that if the U.S. and India prolong negotiations over the EEUM, ""our Prime Minister will not have a plane."" He welcomed the opportunity to work on a security plan, which, he realized, might help strengthen India's overall protective measures. However, he explained, the need for inspections poses the real problem. ""We need to work in a manner that provides comfort to both sides,"" he stressed. Upon learning of PDASD Shivers visit, Narayanan immediately turned to his aides to arrange separate meetings between Narayanan and officials from the Prime Minister's security staff and Ministry of Defense before May 28. He offered to coordinate a meeting with Defense Secretary Vijay Singh, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and himself for the Shivers delegation.

3. (C) Comment: As Narayanan makes clear, on-site U.S. inspections of the prime minister's jet make the Indian government pause. While it appears that the government has few issues with the development and validation of a security plan, the risk that the UPA government's opponents might use the image of U.S. officials tramping around the Indian head of state's plane to garner votes in the upcoming general elections has made the Indians nervous. Such an image fits into the campaign messages already espoused by the opposition BJP, which accuses the government of an overriding weakness, and the Communists, who denounce the growing friendship with the U.S. But our willingness to resolve the issue in New Delhi at a high level could help alleviate the Indians' anxiety and point the way towards a middle ground that protects both the LAIRCM and the UPA government.

MULFORD