Cluster bomb
A technical field manager inspecting a cluster bomb during the Lebanon war in 2006. Photo by AP
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One of the latest U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks listed an Israeli weapons manufacturer as one of the global sites which the United States considers vital to its security interests.

The U.S. cable listed a Haifa weapons development facility belonging to the Israeli company Rafael as a site of vital interest, due to its significance in providing materials for sophisticated cluster bombs.

In February 2009, the U.S. State Department sent a secret cable to U.S. embassies all over the world, requesting information on foreign strategic sites or companies that are considered vital for U.S. security interests.

The cable said that the purpose of the information is to prevent, deter, and neutralize terror attempts on those sites, and it specifically said to keep the matter secret and not inform foreign governments about it.

The cable added a list of strategic sites for 2008 which also included a site in Israel – Rafael's Haifa weapons development facility. It was emphasized that the Haifa facility was imperative for creating specific materials for cluster bombs which turn them into precision-guided weapons.

Other Middle East sites are also included in the list. It notes that Qatar will be the largest source of imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 2012 and also refers to the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia, the largest crude oil process and stabilization plant in the world.

Al Qaida mounted an unsuccessful attack on Abqaiq in 2006 and there were warnings that the WikiLeaks cable setting out so many sensitive targets could help militants.

The list begins with a cobalt mine in Kinshasa, Congo and refers to various locations in Europe where drug companies produce insulin, treatment for snake bites and foot and mouth vaccines.

The U.S. State Department said Monday that Wikileaks' decision to publish details of international sites that the United States considers vital to its interests provides groups such as al Qaeda with a "targeting list" for possible attacks.

"It is irresponsible. Information is classified for good reason, most especially information involving critical infrastructure that supports our economy and those of other countries," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in an e-mailed statement.

"(Wikileaks founder) Julian Assange has released what amounts to a targeting list that will be of interest to groups like al Qaeda."