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US tried to remove uranium from Pakistan, WikiLeaks reveals

media President Asif Ali Zardari criticised as the greatest obstacle to progress in Pakistan Reuters

The United States has led top secret efforts to remove highly enriched uranium from Pakistan for years, worried it could be used to make an "illicit" nuclear device.  That’s according to the New York Times, which is releasing secret documents from the whistleblowing WikiLeaks website.

Since 2007 the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device, the paper says.

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

In May 2009, US ambassador to Islamabad Anne W Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, "if the local media got word of the fuel removal, 'they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan's nuclear weapons' ."

Pakistan has criticised the release of the cables as "irresponsible".

Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is one of the most sensitive topics for the United States as it tries to improve relations with the conservative Muslim nation on the front line in the campaign against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Saudi King Adbullah, whose country is influential in Pakistan, called President Asif Ali Zardari the greatest obstacle to progress in the country, WikiLeaks reveals.

Abdullah is quoted as saying that when the head is rotten it affects the whole body. Zardari is the subject of much controversy at home and is widely accused of corruption.

French Defence Minister Hervé Morin expressed doubts about Pakistan's willingness to fight "extremists" at home during a meeting with US officials in Paris, WikiLeaks also reports.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai wanted the Pakistan-Afghanistan border closed would largely solve his country's problems, Morin said.  US officials replied that there was increasing cooperation between US and Pakistani forces over the border.

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