Wikileaks memo on Shannon Airport revealed

Wednesday 01 December 2010 20.56
Pakistan - Nuclear programme has caused concern in diplomatic circles
Pakistan - Nuclear programme has caused concern in diplomatic circles

Diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks seem to indicate that US diplomats believed that the Irish Government tried to clamp down on the use of Shannon Airport for military purposes as a political ploy ahead of the last general election.

According to a 2006 memo, US authorities were also considering taking a civil action against five anti-war activists who damaged a US plan at Shannon three years earlier.

Responding to the leaked memo, Amnesty International Ireland has called for the Government to tighten up legislation on use of Irish airspace.

The organisation's executive director Colm O'Gorman said the memo indicated that the Government saw Irish citizen's concerns about the use of Shannon as a problem to be managed rather than something to be taken seriously.

Meanwhile, other documents to emerge from the WikiLeaks website indicate the grave concerns that the US, the UK and Russia have about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

Diplomatic memos show there are real fears that the scale of Pakistan's atomic programme could be large enough for renegade officials to smuggle material to militants who want to develop a crude bomb.

British diplomats were worried that Pakistan is building new bombs at a rate faster than any other country in the world, despite the economic crisis.

Russian diplomats expressed their concern that it is impossible to guarantee the loyalty of the thousands of people who have access to the Pakistani nuclear programme.

However, Pakistan has dismissed the fears that its nuclear weapons programme could fall into the hands of terrorists.

Foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit said: 'Their fears are misplaced and doubtless fall in the realm of condescension.

'There has not been a single incident involving our fissile material, which clearly reflects how strong our controls and mechanisms are.

'It is time they part with their historical biases against Pakistan,' Mr Basit said, referring to the UK and the US.

The WikiLeaks material is providing an insight into international tension, but the US has said it is undermining international diplomacy.

Elsewhere, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne have been privately criticised by the Governor of the Bank of England.

Mervyn King criticised the pair for their 'lack of experience' and tendency to view issues 'only in terms of politics'.

Mr King made the remarks in February to the US Ambassador to London, Louis Susman, who relayed them to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

They are embarrassing for Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne and threaten to damage the UK government's relations with the governor.

Mr King told Mr Susman that, having met the two men before the general election to talk about the deficit, he felt they 'had a tendency to think about issues only in terms of politics, and how they might affect Tory electorability'.

'King expressed great concern about Conservative leaders' lack of experience,' Mr Susman told Mrs Clinton.

Mr King apparently 'opined that party leader David Cameron and shadow chancellor George Osborne have not fully grasped the pressures they will face from different groups when attempting to cut spending'.