The New York Times and the Guardian have published the first reports of the US Embassy cables, obtained from WikiLeaks, this afternoon. The Times was first to go live just after 1 pm EST, with the Guardian following shortly afterwards. The reports contain information from over 250,000 confidential American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks and distributed to the Times, the Guardian, and Germany’s Der Spiegel.
From the Times report:
The cables, a huge sampling of the daily traffic between the State Department and some 270 embassies and consulates, amount to a secret chronicle of the United States’ relations with the world in an age of war and terrorism. Among their revelations, to be detailed in The Times in coming days:
¶ A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: 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, 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.”
¶ Gaming out an eventual collapse of North Korea: American and South Korean officials have discussed the prospects for a unified Korea, should the North’s economic troubles and political transition lead the state to implode. The South Koreans even considered commercial inducements to China, according to the American ambassador to Seoul. She told Washington in February that South Korean officials believe that the right business deals would “help salve” China’s “concerns about living with a reunified Korea” that is in a “benign alliance” with the United States.
¶ Bargaining to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison: When American diplomats pressed other countries to resettle detainees, they became reluctant players in a State Department version of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Obama, while the island nation of Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in a group of detainees, cables from diplomats recounted. The Americans, meanwhile, suggested that accepting more prisoners would be “a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.”
Perhaps one of the most interesting, and alarming, pieces of information to come out of the cables is the news that North Korea is helping to arm Iran. Given the current unstable situations in North Korea and the Middle East, this news is sure to provoke a lot of cable news chatter and analysis in the coming days as Americans react and discuss whether, and how, America’s approach to North Korea and Iran should change now.
Additionally, another major bomb dropped among all the WikiLeaks information is the news that US diplomats spied on top UN leaders such as Ban Ki-moon. The Guardian hones in on this piece with an additional story detailing the US’s secret intelligence gathering campaign targeted against top UN leadership — a story whose effects will certainly reverberate around the world.
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