Countries blast leaks, deny importance

WASHINGTON — Foreign governments reacted with a mixture of denials and dismissiveness Monday to the massive leaking of U.S. diplomatic cables, questioning the decision to make the material public but also insisting, for the most part, that the revelations were either untrue or unlikely to affect world events.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, for example, defended its refusal to allow U.S. officials to visit a nuclear reactor that the United States helped build in the 1960s or remove highly enriched uranium from it. The uranium had been provided by the United States.

"We said no, because it's now our property, and we will not return it," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said in a statement. ". . . No one can touch Pakistan's nuclear facilities and assets."

Basit blasted what he called the "mischievous" reports based on the leaked documents, especially the parts that include criticism of Saudi Arabia by Pakistani officials.

Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, called the release of the diplomatic cables "damaging" and "the timing terrible."

The cables included critical communiques about Iranian pressure and manipulation during Iraq's parliamentary election in March including the alleged funneling of between $100 million and $200 million to "Iraqi surrogates" annually.

The communiques also included a comment from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia calling Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki a "liar" and saying he would never support him.

"There is a mere chance for government formation," Zebari said, referring to the ongoing struggle in Iraq to forge a lasting government. "And it's poisoned by all these reports."

In Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country wasn't harmed by any of the revelations.

On the contrary, Netanyahu said, the leaks proved that many other Middle Eastern countries share Israel's view that a nuclear-armed Iran "is the most fundamental threat" in the region.

One cable asserts that the Saudi king repeatedly asked the United States to "cut off the head of the snake" — presumably meaning to attack Iran's nuclear program — while there was still time.

Another quotes a senior Saudi official as warning that if Iran is not stopped, gulf Arab states would develop their own nuclear weapons.

"There's a gap between what they say privately and what they say publicly," Netanyahu said of Arab leaders.

In a news conference Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asserted that the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables were published on the orders of the United States.

Ahmadinejad said he was not impressed with the diplomatic messages. "This is an intelligence game, a propaganda war, and it will not be effective because the nations of the region are awake," he said.