WikiLeaks reveals US-Pak standoff over N-fuel

US fears highly enriched uranium from Pak reactor could be diverted for use in illicit N-device.

Last Updated: Nov 29, 2010, 11:26 AM IST

Washington: The secret US diplomatic communications leaked by WikiLeaks have exposed a dangerous standoff over the use of highly enriched uranium in Pakistani reactor as America fears the fuel can be used for making illicit nuclear device.

The New York Times, one of the newspapers provided advanced access to the papers, on 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 September 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."

The US had warned the governments of India, Britain, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Israel in advance of the bombshell release of the classified documents that the leaks would damage the US relationships around the world.

State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley said: "These revelations are harmful to the US and our interests. They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world."

The White House on Sunday condemned the release of secret documents as "reckless" and "dangerous".

IANS