Saturday

21st Sep 2019

UK condemns leak of 'critical infrastructure' list

Britain on Monday (6 December) condemned WikiLeaks for publishing a classified US list of "critical infrastructure" in European countries which could form terrorist targets. German tabloid Bild also said the whistleblower is playing into terrorists' hands.

"We unequivocally condemn the unauthorised release of classified information. The leaks and their publication are damaging to national security in the United States, Britain and elsewhere," a communique from Prime Minister David Cameron's office reads.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 'Lethality enhancers' for Patriot missiles are being developed in Germany (Photo: wikipedia)

A spokesperson for EU anti-terrorism co-ordinator Gilles de Kerchove declined to comment on the release.

Overnight from Sunday to Monday, the WikiLeaks published a cable dating to 18 February in which the US government lists what it considers "critical foreign infrastructure" around the globe, including Europe.

The inventory is drawn up from a strictly US perspective, not a national or European one. An attack on these facilities "could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States," the cable says.

UK military assets make up the biggest part of the list, along with Germany's labs and bomb-testing facilities.

Among potential British targets are BAE Systems' facilities in Presont, Lancashire for being "critical to the [fighter jet] F-35 Joint Strike Fighter," the one in Southway, Plymouth Devon, described as "critical to extended range guided munitions" and the one in Chorley for its role in the Joint Standoff Weapon program, which develops "precision strike weapons" launched from fighter jets. Scotland's MacTaggart Scott engineering company, producer of propulsion units for submarines is also on the list for being "critical to the Ship Submersible Nuclear" program.

A spokeswoman for BAE Systems on Monday said: "BAE Systems recognises its role as a custodian of key industrial and military assets. We would be concerned at any activity which compromises this."

Germany did not react officially on Monday morning. The mass-circulation Bild published an article with the headline "This is how WikiLeaks is playing into the terrorists' hands," however.

The US State Department described the BASF chemical plant in Ludwigshafen, south-west Germany, as "the world's largest integrated chemical complex." Siemens' factory in Erlangen, Bavaria, is producing "essentially irreplaceble" chemicals. Hydroelectric Dam Turbines and Generators Draeger Safety in the east-German town of Luebeck are "critical to gas detection capability," while Junghans Fienwerktechnik in Schramberg, near the French border, is "critical to the production of mortars."

The Bavaria-based TDW-Gesellshcaft Wirksysteme in Schroebenhausen is "critical to the production" of so-called lethality enhancement of missiles. GlobalSecurity.org explains that these are "additional explosives aimed at increasing the kill radius of an interceptor missile."

Apart from military assets, pharmaceutical laboratories and factories are mentioned in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipline connecting oil fields in the Caspian sea to Turkey via Georgia and Azerbaijan is also on the list, along with Soviet-era oil pipe Druzba, crossing Belarus and Poland, Italy's Trans-Med gas pipeline and Spain's Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline. Russia's Novorossiysk oil terminal on the Black Sea and the Nadym gas pipeline junction in Western Siberia are mentioned, the latter being described as "the most critical gas facility in the world."

Undersea cables in Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK complete the list, along with strategic straits such as the Bosphorus and Gibraltar and some rare elements mines in Ukraine and Russia.

A second cable, sent on 20 March from the US embassy in Stockholm, further requests "to add Sweden's communications infrastructure" to the list. "Although Sweden does not posses a direct undersea cable from the US, Sweden is a central European communications hub," the document reads, citing Swedish company TeliaSonera, which owns and manages 43,000 km of fiber optic cable linking Russia and the Baltics to the rest of Europe and the US. "If these lines of communications were to be destroyed, disrupted, or xploited, it may compromise global communications," the US embassy explains.

Swedish pharmaceutical manufacturing company Recip AB is also to be "kept on the list" for its production of potassium iodide, a substance used "in the aftermath of a nuclear emergency."

Agenda

Europe goes to New York This WEEK

Iran and climate change likely to dominate as French president Emmanuel Macron speaks for Europe at the UN general assembly in New York this week.

Opinion

Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril

Matteo Salvini's recent gambit may have failed, but, in his own words: "From today you will find me even more pissed off and determined. I will go from town to town and we will take this country back."

Opinion

Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration

Brussels' current vision for cooperation on defence, where third countries can contribute but have no say in decision-making and in the guidance of operations, is unlikely to be attractive to the UK.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'
  2. UK secrecy on Brexit holds back wider EU talks
  3. Feminist mass protest in Spain after 19 murders this summer
  4. Global climate strike starts ahead of UN summit
  5. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  6. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  7. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  8. Germany takes carbon border tax on board

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Podcast

Trumpworld In Europe

Pastors and plutocrats are sponsoring an ultra-conservative agenda in Europe. Many of them have links to Donald Trump.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Europe goes to New York This WEEK
  2. Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations
  3. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  4. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  5. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  6. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  7. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  8. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us