A Gujarat plant of a US-based pharmaceutical firm and two mines are among hundreds of key infrastructure sites around the world that could pose a critical danger to US security if they come under terrorist attack, according to a secret State Department list released by Wikileaks.
A State Department cable from February 2009 asked US missions to update a list of infrastructure and key resources worldwide whose loss “could critically impact” the country’s public health, economic life and national security.
Three sites are mentioned in India. Chromite mines in Orissa and Karnataka are mentioned as well as Generamedix, a Gujarat subsidiary of a New Jersey-based pharmaceutical firm.
Chromite is an important mineral used in the making of stainless steel. India produces about 20% of world’s supply. Other chromite mines in Kazakhstan and elsewhere are also on the list.
Generamedix is listed for “chemotherapy agents, including florouracil and methotrexate.” Both these medicines are used to treat cancer and have been used for many years. Methotrexate was developed by an unsung Indian-American scientist, Yellapragada Subbarao, in the 1950s. It is unclear why this specific plant is considered so important to US interests.
The list also details undersea cables, key communications, ports, mineral resources and firms of strategic importance in countries ranging from Britain to New Zealand, via Africa, West Asia and China.
A Canadian hydroelectric plant is described as a “critical irreplaceable source of power to portions of Northeast US,” while a Siemens factory in Germany does “essentially irreplaceable production of key chemicals”.
According to the diplomatic cable, the request was designed “to strengthen national preparedness, timely response, and rapid recovery in the event of an attack, natural disaster or other emergency”. Compilation of the list would help “prevent, deter, neutralise or mitigate the effects of deliberate efforts by terrorists to destroy, incapacitate or exploit” sites deemed of “vital” importance to the US.