Australia 'rock solid' in WikiLeaks cables
Australia is described as a "rock solid" but uninfluential US ally in secret US government documents made public by the controversial whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks.
A small number of the 250,000 cables have been released, leaving the US government in damage control and warning the release of the top-secret documents could endanger lives.
About 930 of the WikiLeaks documents were written by US officials in Australia, but it is not yet clear what information they contain and the WikiLeaks website was struggling under the massive amount of traffic.
Australia's Attorney-General Robert McClelland says he has established a taskforce to deal with any fallout from the new leaks, which he describes as of a "real concern" to the Government.
Mr McClelland says the Australian Federal Police (AFP) is assessing if any Australian laws had been broken.
One confidential document from the US Embassy in Harare, seen by ABC News Online, describes Australia as a "rock solid" ally of the US.
The cable, with the subject line "The End is Nigh", was classified by Ambassador Christopher W Dell, who describes president Robert Mugabe as "more clever and more ruthless than any other politician in Zimbabwe".
"To give the devil his due, he is a brilliant tactitian [sic] and has long thrived on his ability to abruptly change the rules of the game, radicalise the political dynamic and force everyone else to react to his agenda," he wrote.
"The regime has become so used to calling the shots and dictating the pace that the merest stumble panics them. Many local observers have noted that Mugabe is panicked and desperate about hyperinflation at the moment, and hence he's making mistakes. Possibly fatal mistakes.
"We need to keep the pressure on in order to keep Mugabe off his game and on his back foot, relying on his own shortcomings to do him in."
Mr Dell goes on to describe the UK as "ham-strung by its colonial past and domestic politics" and says the EU is "divided between the hard north and its soft southern underbelly.
"Rock-solid partners like Australia don't pack enough punch to step out front and the United Nations is a non-player," he adds.
Wider probe needed
The Australian Defence Force has already established a taskforce after the previous two releases by WikiLeaks of information surrounding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but Mr McClelland says a "whole-of-government" investigation is needed.
"The documentation, in so far as suggested, could be related to issues broader than simply our Defence strategy," he said.
Mr McClelland has met with US ambassador Jeffrey Bleich, but has not been provided with copies of the cables thought to have been obtained by WikiLeaks.
He says he is waiting for advice from the US about what action should be taken against the Australian founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange.
"It's not customary to talk about law enforcement actions that would be taken, but certainly the US authorities are looking at law enforcement actions as the lead country and we're providing every assistance," Mr McClelland said.
Also among the leaked documents is an outline of what was going on behind the scenes at the 2007 APEC meeting in Sydney.
The previously classified secret documents outline discussions between the US and China about an arms shipment headed to Iran that was passing through Beijing on its way to the Middle East.
The document, classified secret, sends an order for "urgent action" on North Korea sending arms to Iran via Beijing.
"In September, during their meeting at the APEC summit in Sydney, Australia, President Bush discussed with Chinese President Hu [his] strong concerns relating to the ongoing trans-shipment via Beijing of key ballistic missile parts from North Korea to Iran's missile program," the cable reports.