WikiLeaks lays bare nuclear standoff with Pakistan, hacking by China (Lead)

November 29th, 2010 - 10:49 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, Nov 29 (IANS) A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel and a global computer hacking effort by China are among the revelations laid bare by a cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables released by whistleblower site WikiLeaks.

The New York Times, one of the newspapers provided advanced access to the papers, Sunday offered a preview of the revelations from a huge sampling of the daily traffic between the State Department and some 270 embassies and consulates that it intends to detail in the coming days.

The cables show that nearly a decade after the Sep 11, 2001 attacks, the dark shadow of terrorism still dominates the United States’ relations with the world, said the Times.

“They depict the Obama administration struggling to sort out which Pakistanis are trustworthy partners against Al Qaeda, adding Australians who have disappeared in the Middle East to terrorist watch lists, and assessing whether a lurking rickshaw driver in Lahore, Pakistan, was awaiting fares or conducting surveillance of the road to the American Consulate.”

“They show American officials managing relations with a China on the rise and a Russia retreating from democracy. They document years of painstaking effort to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon - and of worry about a possible Israeli strike on Iran with the same goal,” the Times said.

Detailing “a dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel” revealed by Wikileaks, the Times said: “Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device.

In May 2009, (US) Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, “if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ he argued.”

Dispatches from early this year quote the monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, as speaking scathingly about the leaders of Iraq and Pakistan.

Speaking to another Iraqi official about Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, King Abdullah said, “You and Iraq are in my heart, but that man is not.”

The king called Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari the greatest obstacle to that country’s progress, the Times said citing a cable. “When the head is rotten,” he said, “it affects the whole body.”

Another cable cited by the Times said a Chinese contact told the American embassy in Beijing in January that China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country.

The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government, it said.

They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.

The White House was quick to “condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorised disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.”

It would jeopardise “our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

“By releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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