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Wikileaks report stokes anti-US hardliners in Pakistan

Wikileaks reports indicate that the US has mounted a secret effort to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani reactor since 2007, reinforcing what until now had been a conspiracy theory.

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According to Pervez Hoodbhoy, an eminent Pakistani nuclear physicist based at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, the report probably refers to the highly enriched uranium Pakistan received from the US in the late 1960s as part of the "Atoms for Peace" program, before its weapons program began.

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“As far as I can guess, the leak refers to highly enriched uranium that Pakistan received from the US in the late 1960's or early 1970s for running the small 5-mw research reactor at PINSTECH,” he says, in reference to a research center based close to Islamabad that is aimed at producing atomic energy. “There is no other reactor in Pakistan that runs on HEU. I suppose that the US wants it back because of fears that Al Qaeda might get its hands on it somehow.”

Pakistan gained its own nuclear enriching capability in 1976, therefore the removal of some highly enriched uranium by the United States would not eliminate its ability to create nuclear weapons.

Related: Julian Assange - the hacker who created WikiLeaks

Attempt to create misperceptions?

Separate WikiLeaks cables concerning Pakistani politicians could also prove embarrassing to its allies.

In one cable, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia derides President Asif Ali Zardari as the biggest hurdle to progress, stating, “When the head is rotten, it affects the whole body.”

President Zardari however received a tepid lukewarm "endorsement" from Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, "Zardarni [sic] is dirty but not dangerous," while… Sharif is “dangerous but not dirty – this is Pakistan. Sharif cannot be trusted to honor his promises,” a reference to Pakistan’s foremost opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif.

Farhatullah Babar, the president’s spokesman, said via text message that “President Zardari regards Saudi King Abdullah as his elder brother. The so called leaks are no more than an attempt to create misperceptions between two important and brotherly Muslim countries.”

Related: Wikileaks release in Russia, what it could mean to US relations

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