WikiLeaks: Behind Scenes, US Worried About Pakistan Nukes

'Sensational' media coverage kept US from removing uranium
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2010 7:33 PM CST
WikiLeaks: Behind Scenes, US Worried About Pakistan Nukes
In this photo released by Pakistan's Inter Services Public Relations, a Pakistan-made Ghaznavi missile is launched at an undisclosed location in Pakistan on Saturday, May 8, 2010.   (AP Photo/Pakistan's Inter Services Public Relations, HO)

The Guardian and the New York Times put the latest WikiLeaks focus on relations with Pakistan and worries—despite official statements to the contrary— that radicals could get their hands on its nuclear arsenal:

  • US ambassador Anne Patterson, May 2009: "Our major concern is not having an Islamic militant steal an entire weapon but rather the chance someone working in government of Pakistan facilities could gradually smuggle enough material out to eventually make a weapon."
  • British Foreign Office official, September 2009: "The UK has deep concerns about the safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons."
  • Russian foreign ministry official: "Islamists are not only seeking power in Pakistan but are also trying to get their hands on nuclear materials."

Patterson also complained in a cable that Pakistan was again reneging on a deal to allow the US to remove a stockpile of highly enriched uranium: "The 'sensational' international and local media coverage of Pakistan's nuclear weapons made it impossible to proceed at this time." That might be the "most intriguing" tidbit of all, notes New York's Daily Intel blog—that the media helped sustain the nation's nuclear capabilities. Because as the Times succinctly notes: "The fuel is still there." (Another point that speaks to the nation's instability: President Zardari confided to Joe Biden he was worried the military might "take me out.")

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