Whistleblower Wikileaks today released a confidential cable from the United States embassy in London linking the Philippines to possible smuggling incident of nuclear and other radioactive material. The memo was dated November 21, 2007 and was marked as “sensitive”.
It said that at the time, the location of the nuclear or radioactive material was in the Philippines and that it formerly belonged to the US. At the time the memo was issued, Philippine authorities have not been notified.
The memo said that the UK post “wishes to alert the Department and Washington agencies per reftel that it has received a report indicating a potential incident of illicit trafficking in and possible offer of nuclear and/or radiological materials. This report came to post’s attention via call-in and email. Information concerning this report was relayed telephonically to PMAT at 0715 GMT on 11/21/07.”
The US embassy in London said that “At approximately 1100 hours GMT on 11/20/07, a phone message was received by Post’s Foreign Service National Investigator (FSNI) Unit from a male stating he had information in regard to the sale of Uranium that formerly belonged to the US. He also stated he had previously sent faxes to the Embassy and the CIA, but as yet had not received a response. The source left a contact phone number of: xxxxxxxxxxxx(UK number). At approximately 1200 hours GMT on 11/20/07, the FSNI unit received a phone call from subject, xxxxxxxxxxxx, stating he had worked with divers in the Philippines previously and was recently contacted by them with information that they had found 5-6 Uranium “bricks” at the sight of an underwater wreck. xxxxxxxxxxxx stated his contacts expressed a desire to sell the “bricks” for profit. At approximately 1700 hours GMT on 11/20/07, an unclassified email was received to the RSO Investigation Unit’s mail box from xxxxxxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxxx, Attached to the email were 9 photos of the substance in question.
This is quite alarming. The memo raises a lot of questions on how and why there would be uranium bricks in Philippine territory. We are a country does not allow nuclear weapons, nor do we operate any nuclear power plant, nor do we allow the storage of nuclear material. At least officially, that is.
The nuclear material “formerly belonged” to the US according to the leaked cable.
We can only think of a few American entities in the Philippines that are nuclear-capable. These are the US troops, like those based in Mindanao and elswehere. The question is, what are the US forces doing with nuclear material in our country? How are they able to
Under the VFA, Philippine authorities are not allowed to inspect the warships of the US forces. The US commanders merely issue a general statement certifying the contents of the vehicles.
Was there a US vessel that sunk or crashed in Philippine waaters, and is this what’s being described as the underwater wreck? Was this vessel nuclear-powered or nuclear-capable?
We seek a response from the Department of Foreign Affairs if they were at anytime notified of such a situation and if there were any reports of a US vessel sinking anywhere in the Philippines.
Does the DFA even know about this or were they at any point formally notified by the US government? Or was this kept a secret because it will expose the US government’s violation of the constitutional ban on nuclear weapons.
At the very least, the US government and Philippine government should issue their explanation. The people deserve to know.
So far the DFA has refused to comment on the leaked cable, saying it has a policy not to comment on unverified or raw intel reports. We also find this hard to believe especially since when several countries issued travel advisories against the Philippines based on “raw and unverified” intel reports, the DFA was quick to issue its reaction.
Another explanation I heard was that the whole uranium thing could be part of a scam to get money from governments. This was relayed by a diver involved in such search operations. The diver allegedly confirmed that there was a spike in diving and retrieval operations in 2007 but that no uranium was found.
Just the same, in the name of national interest, the DFA can’t simply dismiss the leaked cable. Not when it involves the safety and security of our people. The least it could do is formally inquire with the US government and ask why they were not notified (if such were the case).
Otherwise, we get the impression that the DFA is afraid to ruffle some feathers at the US embassy.
Read more Wikileaks entries on the Philippines here: