Wikileaks: 994 secret cables from KL
Yesterday’s Wikileaks disclosure of Malaysian-based firms involved in procuring missile components for Iran is only a curtain-raiser for potentially more revealing exposures.
That is because Wikileaks, the whistleblower website, has in its trove 994 secret diplomatic cables sent from the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. None of the Kuala Lumpur cables has yet been released.
Wikileaks is publishing its entire hoard of 251,287 cables in batches. Since Sunday, 281 cables have been released, causing problems for US government relations and diplomacy.
Much of the focus has been on the shadowy battle between the United States and Iran over its ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Malaysian-based companies have been implicated as front companies for Iranians in buying weapons technology from around the world.
Malaysia was mentioned in two of the 281 cables released since Sunday.
- 10STATE10900 a cable classified “secret” from the State Department to its embassy in Beijing, which named two Malaysia-based companies as being fronts for an Iranian network of firms buying up nuclear and missile technology from around the world, in defiance of international sanctions.
(See yesterday’s posting » 2 Malaysian firms in Iran missile probe).
- 09LONDON1385 a cable from London on 11 June 2009 recounting a conversation with Commonwealth secretariat officials on setting up election commissions, suspension of Fiji; human rights in Sri Lanka; Nigeria; and on a future problem of who would succeed Queen Elizabeth II as Head of the Commonwealth.
Malaysia wanted Fiji suspended
The London cable mentioned Malaysia in passing; Commonwealth political director Amitav Banerji said Malaysia wanted to ensure that Fiji did not withdraw from the Commonwealth and thus avoid a full suspension by the organisation, while New Zealand had pressed for Fiji’s full suspension.
Fiji had been initially suspended in December 2006 after a military coup overthrew the civilian government. After three years, Commonwealth ministers met to discuss action on Fiji and set conditions on a return to democratic rule. On Sept 1 last year, Fiji was fully suspended when it failed to meet a deadline to agree on the Commonwealth conditions, one of which was to hold elections by October this year.
Who to head Commonwealth after Queen E?
The London cable quotes Commonwealth officials as anticipating problems arising from the succession to Queen Elizabeth II as head of the Commonwealth after she passes on. Prince Charles, the heir apparent to the British throne, does not command the same respect, the officials said.
“There is no rule in the Commonwealth that stipulates that the British monarch is the head and no procedure for selecting a new head,” the cable quotes the official as saying. But he also noted that “succession was not actively being discussion within the Commonwealth”.
Kuan Yew: Japan will go nuclear
Wikileaks has also released a cable from Singapore, recounting the views of the republic’s founding prime minister and elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew on regional security, especially China, North Korea, Taiwan and Japan, in discussions with James Steinberg, the Deputy Secretary of State, and an assistant.
The cable said Mr Lee believed that China wanted North Korea to remain, as a buffer state between it and South Korea and the US, and would prefer to have a nuclear-armed North Korea rather than have it collapse. He also believed that Japan would eventually become a nuclear power, that China was building up an offensive missile capability that would keep the US Seventh Fleet at bay should Taiwan move towards independence. He believed, however, that China’s premier Hu Jintao was a pragmatic person who was willing to take a long view and be patient.