World News Brief, Tuesday November 30

Wikileaks cables style Putin an "alpha dog", Karzai as paranoid and Merkel as risk averse (+ analysis); Portugal reaching crisis point as Ireland bailout fails to convince; North Korea to pay "a dear price"; Iranian nuclear scientist dies in bombing that echoes January death;

Top of the Agenda: Wikileaks Release Exposes US Diplomacy

WikiLeaks released the first batch of about 250,000 US diplomatic cables Sunday, exposing sensitive official information (FT) about US affairs with the rest of the world and US assessments of foreign leaders. The cables – released after a previous batch of 400,000 documents in October about the Iraq war and 75,000 in July on the Afghan war -- indicate that Iran has obtained nineteen BM-25 missiles from North Korea with a range sufficient to hit western Europe, and they document Arab calls for a military attack on Tehran. They also recount US efforts since 2007 to remove weapons-grade uranium from a Pakistani research reactor that the United States fears would be used as a bomb. The documents also suggest US diplomats were ordered to engage in low-level spying (WashPost) by obtaining foreign diplomats' personal information, such as frequent-flier and credit card numbers. The documents could embarrass the Obama administration and undermine its diplomacy. In cables drafted by US diplomats, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is described as an "alpha-dog," Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "driven by paranoia," and German Chancellor Angela Merkel allegedly "avoids risk and is rarely creative." White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs expressed concern (Bloomberg) in a statement that, "these cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders." The Pentagon said yesterday it will take action to prevent future illegal releases of classified information, including removing the ability of classified computers to download information onto removable disks.


The Economist questions whether the WikiLeaks' revelations will lead to a sustained increase in circulation for the five newspapers given privileged access to the material: the New York Times in the United States, the Guardian in Britain, Le Monde in France, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany.

On the Daily Beast, Peter Beinart says the WikiLeaks documents "sabotage American foreign policy without adding much, if anything, to the public debate."


PACIFIC RIM: South Korea Warns Against New Attack

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak promised in a televised speech to make sure North Korea "pays a dear price" (NYT) should it attack the South again. He made no mention of China's calls Sunday for "emergency consultations" in early December in Beijing with North and South Korea, Japan, Russia, and the United States.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at the stalled Six-Party Talks.

China: China repeatedly failed to act on US requests for it to stop shipments of missile components (WSJ) from North Korea to Iran via Beijing in 2007, according to US diplomatic cables leaked Sunday.



- Iranian Nuclear Scientist Killed
- Ireland Bailout Fails to Calm


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