Alliances: When spies give military secrets to a foreign power, it's espionage. When an American president does it, betraying an ally to befriend a longtime foe, what do we call it?
According to diplomatic cables obtained by Britain's Daily Telegraph, mined from the thousands of classified documents released by WikiLeaks, the U.S. government agreed to provide Russia with information on the British nuclear deterrent as part of the deal behind the ratification and signing of the New START treaty.
Specifically, the Telegraph reports, the U.S. provided Moscow with the serial numbers of each Trident missile in the British ballistic missile submarine inventory. The Russians presumably already know how many Tridents the British have but can't be sure. British policy has been to refuse to confirm the exact size of its relatively tiny arsenal.
Last year, British Foreign Secretary William Hague disclosed that Britain had "up to 160" warheads operational at any one time, but he did not disclose the total number of missiles and warheads in its nuclear inventory. Duncan Lennox, editor of Jane's Strategic Weapons Systems, says: "They want to find out whether Britain has more missiles than we say we have, and having the unique identifiers might help them."
The State Department denies this, and spokesman P.J. Crowley said via Twitter that the U.S. simply "carried forward requirement to notify Russia about U.S.-UK nuclear cooperation from the 1991 treaty." So why did we, according to the Telegraph, have to ask Britain in 2009 for permission with detailed and classified information on the British Tridents, permission that was reportedly denied?
Indeed, according to one leaked memo, "the Russian Federation will receive unique identifiers for each of the missiles transferred to the UK, which was more information than was disclosed under START." So the State Department seems to have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
The British have quietly gone along with the State Department explanation, but then why wouldn't they? It wouldn't serve the new government of Prime Minister David Cameron well to acknowledge, after a series of snubs and insults from this side of the pond, that the U.S. had just thrown it under the strategic bus.
That we would betray Britain's nuclear secrets would not be surprising, since we are quite willing to betray our own. Before a recent U.N. conference on nuclear nonproliferation, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced: "Beginning today, the United States will make public the number of nuclear weapons in our stockpile and the number of weapons we have dismantled since 1991."...(read The Betrayal Of Great Britain at IBD)