WikiLeaks Cables Reveal Pakistan’s Nuclear Materials May Not Be Secure

It appears that this may be the biggest revelation from WikiLeaks’ recent release of 250,000 classified embassy cables: Pakistan’s nuclear materials are not terribly secure (to put it politely). The Guardian, which is one of the international media outlets the documents were leaked to, reports that there are:

Grave fears in Washington and London over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, with officials warning that as the country faces economic collapse, government employees could smuggle out enough nuclear material for terrorists to build a bomb.

The Guardian also reports that Russia may be hard to distinguish from the mafia. This can’t be good for minimizing the danger of nuclear proliferation either. There are:

Allegations that Russia and its intelligence agencies are using mafia bosses to carry out criminal operations, with one cable reporting that the relationship is so close that the country has become a “virtual mafia state”.

And the Afghan government that the United States is propping up appears to be—surprise!—corrupt. There are:

Suspicions of corruption in the Afghan government, with one cable alleging that vice president Zia Massoud was carrying $52m in cash when he was stopped during a visit to the United Arab Emirates. Massoud denies taking money out of Afghanistan.

Oh, and there’s more—from the disturbing to the salacious:

Other revelations include a description of a near “environmental disaster” last year over a rogue shipment of enriched uranium, technical details of secret US-Russian nuclear missile negotiations in Geneva, and a profile of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, who they say is accompanied everywhere by a “voluptuous blonde” Ukrainian nurse.

Lastly, it appears that U.S. diplomats are in the habit of mixing their diplomatic duties with espionage. If true, it is a very big international diplomacy etiquette faux pas: 

The cables published today reveal how the US uses its embassies as part of a global espionage network, with diplomats tasked to obtain not just information from the people they meet, but personal details, such as frequent flyer numbers, credit card details and even DNA material. Classified “human intelligence directives” issued in the name of Clinton or her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, instruct officials to gather information on military installations, weapons markings, vehicle details of political leaders as well as iris scans, fingerprints and DNA. The most controversial target was the UN leadership. That directive requested the specification of telecoms and IT systems used by top officials and their staff and details of “private VIP networks used for official communication, to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys”.

But the U.S. State Department spokesman says the diplomat-espionage angle revealed in the documents is not true:

PJ Crowley, the state department spokesman in Washington, said: “Let me assure you: our diplomats are just that, diplomats. They do not engage in intelligence activities. They represent our country around the world, maintain open and transparent contact with other governments as well as public and private figures, and report home. That’s what diplomats have done for hundreds of years.”

So we can all go back to sleep now. I definitely feel assured, don’t you? In future, if our children ask us how the political world functions, should we redirect them away from Schoolhouse Rock videos and send them, instead, to WikiLeaks?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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