State Department documents released by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks provided candid views of foreign leaders as well as sensitive information on terrorism and nuclear proliferation, the New York Times reported yesterday.

The documents show Saudi donors remain chief financiers of militant groups like al Qaeda and that Chinese government operatives have waged a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage targeting the U.S. and its allies.

The WikiLeaks documents also show Defense Secretary Robert Gates believes any military strike on Iran would only delay its pursuit of a nuclear weapon by one to three years. The cables reveal that Iran has obtained sophisticated missiles from North Korea capable of hitting western Europe and the U.S. was concerned that Iran was using those rockets as “building blocks” to build longer-range missiles.

The U.S. government has contacted governments around the world, including those in Russia, Europe and the Middle East, to try to limit any damage from documents that include corruption allegations against foreign leaders.

White House: Loose lips sink ships

The White House condemned WikiLeaks’ “reckless and dangerous action” in releasing classified U.S. diplomatic cables, saying it could endanger lives and risk hurting relations with friendly countries.

“These cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only U.S. foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

By their nature, the cables often contained incomplete data and were not an expression of policy, he said. “Such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government,” Gibbs said.