Tue, Dec 07, 2010 - Page 1 News List

WikiLeaks reveals sites ‘vital’ to US

AFP, WASHINGTON and SYDNEY

WikiLeaks has divulged a secret list compiled by Washington of key infrastructure sites around the world that could pose a critical danger to US security if they come under terrorist attack.

The newly released cable is one of the most explosive yet leaked by the whistleblowing Web site that have heaped embarrassment on Washington and caused anger around the world.

A US Department of State cable from February last year asked US missions to update a list of infrastructure and key resources worldwide whose loss “could critically impact” the country’s public health, economic life and national security.

It details undersea cables, key communications, ports, mineral resources and firms of strategic importance in countries ranging from Britain to New Zealand, via Africa, the Middle East and China.

A Canadian hydroelectric plant is described as a “critical irreplaceable source of power to portions of Northeast US,” while a Siemens factory in Germany does “essentially irreplaceable production of key chemicals”.

Also listed are European manufacturers of vaccines for smallpox and rabies, an Italian maker of treatment for snakebite venom and a German company making treatment for plutonium poisoning.

According to the cable, the request was designed “to strengthen national preparedness, timely response, and rapid recovery in the event of an attack, natural disaster or other emergency.”

The cable includes the British locations of undersea cables, satellite systems and defense plants.

“We unequivocally condemn the unauthorized release of classified information,” a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Downing Street office said.

RUDD ON CHINA

Among other revelations, the latest document dump showed Australia’s then-prime minister Kevin Rudd warning US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton over lunch in March last year that force might be needed against China “if everything goes wrong.”

Rudd called for “integrating China effectively into the international community and allowing it to demonstrate greater responsibility, all while also preparing to deploy force if everything goes wrong,” the cable stated.

Rudd also described Chinese leaders as “paranoid” about Taiwan and Tibet, and said that his push for a new Asia-Pacific body was designed to contain Chinese influence.

Clinton questioned the challenges arising from Beijing’s growing economic clout, asking: “How do you deal toughly with your banker?”

China is the single biggest holder of US Treasury debt.

Rudd reviewed Chinese leaders for Clinton at the lunch, saying President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) “is no [predecessor] Jiang Zemin (江澤民)” and opining that Hu’s likely successor Xi Jinping (習近平) could rise above his colleagues.

On Taiwan, Rudd told the US that the feelings of Chinese leaders were “sub-rational and deeply emotional” while hardline policies on Tibet were designed to send messages to other ethnic minorities.

Rudd refused to confirm the details in the memo released by WikiLeaks. However, he defended Australia’s “robust” ties with China, adding that he would not be contacting Beijing over the comments.

“It’s a robust relationship and diplomacy’s a robust business — sometimes there are agreements and sometimes there are disagreements. That’s life and that’s normal,” Rudd told reporters in Canberra. “The business of diplomacy is not just to roll over and have your tummy tickled from time to time by the Chinese or anybody else; the business of diplomacy is to be firm about your national interest.”

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