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Cable sobre la compra de material militar a Pekín por parte de Perú

El 15 de diciembre de 2009 el embajador estadounidense en Lima se muestra sorprendido por el anuncio de Alan García, abanderado de una iniciativa regional de paz y desarme, de la compra de entre 80 y 120 tanques chinos. El embajador cree que se debe a las presiones internas ante lo que se percibe como provocaciones por parte de Chile.

ID: 240050
Date: 2009-12-15 23:08:00
Origin: 09LIMA1699
Source: Embassy Lima
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Dunno: 09LIMA1635 09LIMA1647 09LIMA1653
Destination: VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #1699/01 3492308
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O R 152308Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0264
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
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C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 001699

SIPDIS
NOFORN
NSC FOR DRESTREPO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/15
TAGS: PREL, MOPS, PARM, PTER, SNAR, PBTS, CI, PE
SUBJECT: PERU: CHINESE TANKS, PEACE PROPOSALS AND U.S. MILITARY
SUPPORT

REF: LIMA 1653; LIMA 1647; LIMA 1635

CLASSIFIED BY: P.Michael McKinley, Ambassador, State, Executive;
REASON: 1.4(A), (B), (D)

1. (C/NF) Summary: Peru is reportedly poised to purchase
Chinese tanks with an eye towards replacing its aging tank fleet
and building up its "dissuasive" defense posture, and to buy
aircraft from Brazil as well as MANPADS and anti-tank weapons from
other countries. These defense acquisitions are surprising, in
light of President Garcia's high profile regional "Peace and
Disarmament Initiative." Neither were they discussed during the
wide-ranging strategic dialogue in Lima with USSOUTHCOM's Commander
December 1-3. While President Garcia and Defense Minister Rey have
defended the purchases and criticized skeptics, most observers
believe the prospective tank purchases respond to domestic
political pressures fueled by the perceived provocations of Chile.
There may be an element of impetuous anti-Chile pantomime in this
announcement, since Peru has rarely brought big purchases to
completion in the last fifteen years. Whatever the case, should
these acquisitions actually materialize, it would suggest that the
GOP will tilt toward those willing to play, including China and
Brazil, which could complicate keeping Peru's focus (and resources)
on the critical internal threat. In the meantime, the Foreign and
Defense Ministers have assured the Ambassador that the arms
purchases will not distract Peru from improving its capabilities to
deal with the Shining Path (SL) and drug traffickers. End Summary.




What Types of Weapons Does Peru Need?

2. (C) Five Chinese-made "Al-Khalid" model (Type 98 MBT 2000)
tanks appeared on display during a military parade in Lima on
December 8. The advanced tanks are reportedly on loan for testing
by the Chinese company Norinco. Media reports claim that the GOP
has decided to purchase between 80 and 120 tanks at a price tag of
$5-6 million each (other sources say $9 million), to eventually
replace the roughly 140 aging T-55 tanks it bought from the USSR
back in the 1960s and 1970s. The deal was reportedly struck
between President Garcia and the PRC's President Hu Jintao during
the last APEC summit in Singapore.



3. (C) Administration officials, including MOD Rey and FM Garcia
Belaunde, were quick to explain that Peru is simply modernizing
basic military equipment that has become obsolete due to the lack
of maintenance, a task they say was neglected by previous
administrations. Government officials have stressed that Peru
needs to maintain its "deterrence" capacity and that the
Comptroller General's Office would be charged with overseeing the
acquisition process. Meanwhile, news of the Chinese tank purchases
caused sharp reactions among the political opposition, including
Nationalist party leader Ollanta Humala, who termed the decision
"hasty." Most of the opposition's commentary centered on whether
the Chinese tanks were a match for Chile's Leopard tanks (or if
kick-backs could be involved in the deal) , but few questioned if
tanks and armor have practical military value in Peru (a country of
mostly jungle and mountains) when it shares only a small 124 km
border with Chile and little flat border with Ecuador.



Other Weapon Systems

4. (C) There have also been reports that Peru is interested in
buying a dozen Super Tucano A-29 close-combat support aircraft from
Brazil, with a cost of around $9 million each. Details of the deal
were reportedly discussed during the December 10-11visit to Lima of
Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who traveled with a large
commercial delegation in tow (septel). The press quoted MOD Rey as


making an "urgent" request to his Brazilian counterpart Nelson
Jobim for an immediate delivery of three or four Super Tucanos for
use in the VRAE. (Jobim said this was up to the aircrafts'
manufacturer, Embraer.) Nonetheless, most knowledgeable observers
believe that the A-29s are well suited for counter narco-terrorism
operations. We have also heard reports that Peru is considering
purchasing more MANPADS from Russia and anti-tank weapons from
Israel, but we do not know the costs or amounts.



Surprise?

5. (C) These defense acquisitions come as something of a
surprise, in light of President Garcia's intensively pursued
regional "Peace and Security Cooperation" initiative. Intended to
reduce military expenditures, formalize a non-aggression pact and
field a South American defense force, the GOP has actively promoted
the initiative at various international fora, including UNASUR,
UNGA, APEC, the Iberoamerican Summit, the OAS and the Vatican.
That the flurry of Peru's high-profile peace-initiative diplomacy
was punctuated by a domestic defense acquisitions announcement of
this size has caught the government in a kind of double bind. But
government officials have sought to deflect the apparent
contradiction.



6. (C/NF) The planned arms purchases were also notable for their
absence during the wide-ranging strategic pol/mil dialogue in Lima
between USSOUTHCOM Commander General Douglas Fraser and his
Peruvian counterparts December 1-3. To the extent that arms
acquisitions were discussed, the Peruvians complained about the
slow and complicated U.S. defense procurement process (FMS and FMF)
and high price tags for U.S. equipment such as helicopters. After
agreeing with their U.S. counterparts regarding the primacy of the
internal threat arising from drug trafficking and terrorism, the
Peruvians also told General Fraser that their main external threat
emanated from Bolivia, where they see Evo Morales as consolidating
power, eliminating political rivals and seeking to extend his
radical brand of indigenous populism beyond his borders, with
ALBA's help.



7. (C/NF) President Garcia and Defense Minister Rey have defended
the Chinese tank purchases as reflecting Peru's political interests
and legitimate self-defense needs. In response to criticism,
Garcia accused the local press of being "anti-patriotic" for
divulging supposedly classified details about the tank deal. Most
observers believe the prospective tank purchases respond to
domestic political pressures fueled by the perceived provocations
of Chile, including the "Salitre 2009" exercise, the announcement
of its $665 million weapons deal with the U.S., and the recent spy
scandal (refs) involving a Peruvian Air Force NCO selling security
secrets to Chile. Several Peruvian interlocutors also told
USSOUTHCOM's General Fraser they were concerned that Chile would
not abide by a prospective decision by the International Court of
Justice (ICJ) at The Hague favoring Peru's argument that the
maritime boundary be redrawn. For that reason, they said, Peru
would need to be prepared to deploy a minimum level of dissuasive
military force in order to compel Chilean compliance with the ICJ
decision.



Comment: The Real Reason is...

8. (C/NF) The real reasons for the announced purchases,
particularly of the Chinese tanks, are surely many and clouded with
questions. There is speculation that corruption has played a role,
although the low unit price suggests the Chinese are buying their


way into the market. If the entire package goes through, the cost
would exceed Peru's entire $650 million "Basic Nucleus" strategic
defense modernization plan - a disproportionately large "off-line"
budget item. In that sense, these planned acquisitions suggest
that, in pursuing defense expenditures, the GOP will tilt toward
those willing to play the game a certain way; i.e., selling the
Peruvians what they say they want rather than what they are
perceived to need. At the end of the day, President Garcia could
also be reacting to Chile with an impetuous decision.



9. (C/NF) Comment Continued: In our view, the utility of tanks
in any real military scenario - including against Chile, whose air,
ground and sea power is vastly superior to Peru's - is open to
question. There appears to be better, and cheaper ways to address
the prospective external threat, including air and sea missile
defense systems and anti-tank weapons. At the same time, Peru is
not yet making sufficient progress against its primary internal
threat of drug trafficking and resurgent Shining Path (SL)
terrorism in the VRAE. Moreover, the GOP has yet to commit the
$150 million needed for the VRAE campaign. While the Brazilian
Tucanos might make practical sense in the VRAE, the Chinese tanks
manifestly do not. Should the tank deal go through, it could
undermine our efforts to keep Peru focused on the primary
(internal) threats to its security. The Ambassador raised this
concern on December 14 and 15 with FM Garcia Belaunde and MOD Rey,
and was assured that Peru remains committed to addressing SL in the
VRAE, drug trafficking and related violence. Time will tell. End
Comment.
MCKINLEY