Facebook VEHICULOS ESPACIALES ARGENTINOSDirector de la Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales revela secretos de Estado a agentes de la Embajada de los Estados Unidos.
En cables recientemente hechos públicos por Wikileaks, Conrado Varotto, director ejecutivo y técnico de la Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, organismo que depende de la Cancillería, habría revelado a los Estados Unidos, información de Estado con respecto al progreso del lanzador satelital Tronador, datos técnicos sobre el desarrollo de motores cohete nacionales, e información sobre la fecha de lanzamiento y características técnicas del cohete GRADICOM, en desarrollo por CITEDEF (Ex-Citefa).
Un cable de Wikileaks publicado el domingo, indica que Varotto entregó en varias oportunidades a oficiales y al menos a dos embajadores de los Estados Unidos, información confidencial de tipo estratégico y de defensa, además de poner en evidencia los avances y retrocesos del programa espacial del país. Varotto, indicó a los norteamericanos que como es "un amigo de los Estados Unidos de toda la vida" se ofreció a transmitir a autoridades de ese país, detalles del programa espacial argentino durante una visita a Washington que realizó en septiembre de 2008, así como posteriores visitas a la Embajada en Buenos Aires y en la sede de la CONAE.
Varotto filtró a los norteamericanos datos sobre tres fallos y explosiones durante pruebas del motor cohete Tronador, datos a los que ni las autoridades ni los medios argentinos tuvieron acceso, asegurándoles que el Tronador recién estaría listo en una década, mientras que en medios nacionales indicó que el mismo estaría listo en el 2012.
Varotto alertó con antelación a la Embajada, sobre el lanzamiento del cohete de defensa GRADICOM, el 17 de diciembre de 2009, y mostró a las autoridades norteamericanas su preocupación por desarrollos en cohetería que estaban siendo apoyados por el ministro de planificación Julio De Vido. Varotto pidió a los norteamericanos "confidencialidad" en su traspaso de información a la Embajada de los Estados Unidos. En otra oportunidad informó a agentes norteamericanos sobre un "serio" asunto que podría afectar a la CONAE, cuando la empresa francesa Dassault ofreció a Fabricaciones Militares la posibilidad de reconvertir un cohete de 30 a 40 km de alcance para fines militares para propiciar ventas en la región. Varotto indicó a los norteamericanos que "alguien debe hacerse responsable por esto". Finalmente la empresa francesa decidió realizar el proyecto con Brasil.
Conrado Varotto dirige la CONAE desde principios de 1994, cuando fue nombrado por el entonces presidente Carlos Menem en medio de la cancelación del proyecto Cóndor.
Cable: 09BUENOSAIRES1263_a[font=MS Mincho]CLASSIFIED BY: Thomas P. Kelly, DCM, State, EXEC; REASON: 1.4(B), (D) 1. (C) Summary: ESTHCouns met on December 2 with Conrado Varotto, Executive Director of CONAE (the Argentine space agency), to discuss the latest developments in Argentina's space launch vehicle (SLV) program (reftel). Varotto reported three unsuccessful ground tests of the SLV engine and said that a fourth would take place shortly. He reiterated his commitment to full transparency about the SLV program. Varotto also expressed serious concerns about recent developments that could force CONAE to share part of or even surrender its Cordoba space center for the fabrication of military solid fuel rockets, a project allegedly pushed by Planning Minister Julio De Vido. Varotto said he had asked Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana to personally appeal to President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (CFK) and explain that to share the space center with military fabrication would spell the end of Argentina's civilian space program. End Summary. 2. (C) Varotto first provided updates on the development of the SLV. So far, he said, CONAE had conducted three tests of the engine on the ground, all three unsuccessful, with a fourth test planned for mid-December. The engine exploded in the first two tests, due to liquid fuel leaks, and failed on the third, due to materials problems with the exhaust. Varotto noted that CONAE has no intention of attempting a launch until the engine is thoroughly and successfully tested on the ground. 3. (C) Varotto also informed ESTHCouns about the planned launch on December 17 of a sounding rocket by the Ministry of Defense's research agency, CITEFA. He noted that he had received an invitation from CITEFA to attend the launch, which erroneously touted it as part of the SLV program. Varotto said he had written to CITEFA to protest this characterization and to decline to attend the launch. He explained that CONAE had only requested from CITEFA that it allow CONAE to fit test guidance equipment atop the sounding rocket in order to test the equipment at high altitude, nothing more. By no means is CONAE cooperating with CITEFA on the SLV development, he stressed. 4. (C) Varotto was worried about what could be perceived as a "militarization" of CONAE's purely civilian SLV development program. He reiterated his complete commitment to transparency and wanted to ensure that Washington was informed. He believed that CITEFA had misunderstood the extent of its cooperation with CONAE. "We have no written agreement to cooperate with CITEFA on the space launch vehicle," Varotto said, "and it makes no sense for us to do so." He explained that the SLV is designed as a liquid fuel launcher, while CITEFA only handles solid fuel rockets. 5. (C) Asking for confidentiality, Varotto then shared a "serious" issue he believed could affect CONAE's SLV program. He said that French military equipment manufacturer Dassault had contacted Fabricaciones Militares (a state company under Planning Minister De Vido) to explore the possibility of refurbishing old Argentine military solid fuel short-range (30-40 km) rockets, for subsequent sales to the region. Officials from Fabricaciones Militares had visited CONAE's space center in Cordoba, where the SLV is being developed. Varotto said he later found out that the reason for the visit was that the Ministry of Planning was considering the use of some of CONAE's facilities and machinery for the fabrication of solid-fuel rockets. Varotto said he immediately contacted Foreign Minister Taiana (the titular head of Argentina's space program) to state unequivocally that CONAE was totally opposed to any military use of its facilities. "This would mean the end of the Argentine SLV program," he stressed, "and someone would have to take responsibility for this." 6. (C) While Dassault appears in the end to have decided to negotiate with the Brazilians rather than the Argentines, Varotto said that Fabricaciones Militares is now considering moving forward with its own project of manufacturing rockets for the use of the Argentine military and for regional military sales. He said that Planning Minister Julio De Vido is pushing this idea to completely retool CONAE's space center to manufacture military rockets. The situation has now escalated into a confrontation between FM Taiana against Planning Minister DeVido and Defense Minister Nilda Garre, Varotto said. He added that he had asked FM Taiana to make a personal appeal to the President. "It is an existential question for us," he said, "and that is why I am appealing to the President." Varotto was adamant that "to share our civilian space center with military fabrication means the end of our SLV program." He stressed that CONAE is totally opposed to having the two projects cohabitate within the same center. Moreover, he said, the space center is entirely focused on the development of liquid fuel boosters and is simply not tooled for large-scale fabrication of solid fuel rockets. 7. (C) Comment: Varotto was clearly worried about damage to his credibility, and he insisted that his unwavering commitment to full transparency be relayed to Washington. Argentina's space program involves much more than the SLV project, as CONAE has for many years pursued very productive cooperation with NASA on the design and building of satellites (the latest one, SAC-D, to be launched from California at the end of 2010.) Varotto does not want rumors and a possible military use of his space center to jeopardize space cooperation with the United States. In the end, he trusts that CFK will maintain the long-standing civilian focus of space research and let CONAE retain exclusive use of its space center in Cordoba. End Comment. MARTINEZ