WikiLeaks has released a secret list of infrastructure from pipelines to smallpox vaccine suppliers whose loss or attack by terrorists could "critically impact" US security in the view of the State Department.
The February 2009 cable from the State Department requested overseas US missions update a list of infrastructure and resources around the globe "whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security and/or national and homeland security of the United States".
The list includes undersea cables, communications, ports, mineral resources and firms of strategic importance in countries ranging from Austria to New Zealand.
The cable said the State Department, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, was seeking input from embassies on "critical infrastructure and key resources within their host countries which, if destroyed, would likely have an immediate and deleterious effect on the United States."
It said diplomats were "not being asked to consult with host governments with respect to this request".
The request came under the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, which aims to enhance protection of key resources "to prevent, deter, neutralize or mitigate the effects of deliberate efforts by terrorists to destroy, incapacitate or exploit them; and to strengthen national preparedness, timely response, and rapid recovery in the event of an attack, natural disaster or other emergency".
The cable reveals a vast range of sites and firms seen as vital to national interests and security, ranging from major infrastructure such as the Panama canal and oil pipelines to Belgian medical firms and an Italian company which produces snake-bite treatments.
The hundreds of entries in the document leaked on Sunday also include mines and mineral resources in Africa and South America, undersea pipelines, cables and ports in China and Japan, French medical and pharmaceutical companies and shipping terminals and crude oil refineries in the Middle East.
In addition the list includes Danish and German suppliers of smallpox and rabies vaccines, British defence contractors and telecommunications facilities, chromite mines in India, and dams and hydro-electric projects in Canada which supply power to the United States.
WikiLeaks created an international firestorm when it started releasing more than 250,000 classified State Department cables on November 28, which have included embarrassing details of American diplomats' private assessments of foreign leaders.