WASHINGTON: The US government said it would tighten security after WikiLeaks released more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables that include candid views of foreign leaders and blunt assessments of security threats.
Here are the main revelations in the cables:
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear program and is reported to have advised Washington to “cut off the head of the snake” while there was still time. The Bahraini king told US diplomats that Iran’s nuclear programme should be halted by any means, and the crown prince of the emirate of Abu Dhabi saw “the logic of war dominating” when it comes to dealing with the Iranian threat. Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia offered to promote energy ties with China if Beijing backed sanctions against Iran, US diplomatic cables said.
The top diplomatic adviser to French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a senior US diplomat last year that Iran was a “fascist” state and the time had come to decide further steps. A non-Iranian businessman travelling often to Tehran told US diplomats last year one of his contacts had been told by former President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had terminal leukaemia and could die in a few months.
Iran has obtained sophisticated missiles from North Korea capable of hitting western Europe, and the United States is concerned. Iran is using those rockets as “building blocks” to build longer-range missiles.
China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the US Embassy in January, as part of a computer sabotage campaign carried out by government operatives, private experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into US government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.
Some Chinese officials do not regard North Korea as a useful ally and would not intervene if the reclusive state collapsed, a South Korean official told the US ambassador to Seoul citing conversations with high-level officials in Beijing. In April 2009, He Yafei, then China’s vice foreign minister, told a US diplomat in Beijing that North Korea acted like a “spoiled child” to attract US attention through steps such as firing a three-stage rocket over Japan.
US and South Korean officials discussed the prospects for a unified Korea should the North’s economic troubles and political transition lead the state to implode. The South Koreans considered commercial inducements to China to “help salve” Chinese concerns about living with a reunified Korea that is in a “benign alliance” with Washington, according to the American ambassador to Seoul.
The State Department asked US envoys at UN headquarters and elsewhere to procure credit card and frequent flyer numbers, mobile phone numbers, email addresses, passwords and other data from foreign diplomats and top UN officials, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Russian Prime Minister Russia’s Vladimir Putin is an “alpha-dog” ruler of a deeply corrupt state dominated by its security forces, US diplomatic documents said. By contrast, President Dmitry Medvedev “plays Robin to Putin’s Batman”.
US diplomats described Afghan President Hamid Karzai as “an extremely weak man who did not listen to facts”, but was easily swayed by conspiracy theories. They said his brother was widely believed to be corrupt and a drug trafficker.
Since 2007, the United States has mounted a secret and so far unsuccessful effort to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor out of fear it could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device.
Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like al Qaeda, and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar was the “worst in the region” in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December.
American diplomats have bargained with other countries to help empty the Guantanamo Bay prison by resettling detainees. Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Barack Obama, and Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in Chinese Muslim detainees. In another case, accepting more prisoners was described as “a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe,” a cable said.
US diplomats cast doubts on the reliability of NATO ally Turkey, portraying its leadership as divided and permeated by Islamists and said advisers to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had “little understanding of politics beyond Ankara”.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is “feckless, vain and ineffective” and his “frequent late nights and penchant for partying hard mean he does not get sufficient rest”, a US diplomat said.
The United States has failed to prevent Syria supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has amassed a huge stockpile since its 2006 war with Israel, the cables said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton questioned the mental health of Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez, asking US diplomats to investigate whether she was on medication.