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The memos also document U.S. concern that Islamist militants could get their hands on Pakistani nuclear material to make an illicit weapon.

Pakistan is producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world, according a memo from December 2008.

The United States has pushed Pakistan to increase security at its nuclear facilities but sometimes has encountered difficulty. Pakistan agreed “in principle” in 2007 to an operation to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani nuclear reactor, but plan was never carried out because of domestic opposition, Mrs. Patterson said in a May 2009 cable.

Pakistan said Monday it refused the operation because its own nuclear security would prevent the material from getting into the wrong hands.

The leaked memos reveal serious concerns about the Pakistani government led by President Asif Ali Zardari. He has been hounded by the opposition, the media and the army, which remains the real power center in the country.

This February, Mrs. Patterson wrote that the civilian government “remains weak, ineffectual and corrupt. Domestic politics is dominated by uncertainty about the fate of President Zardari.”

In March 2009, during a period of political turmoil, Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani told the ambassador that he “might, however reluctantly,” pressure Mr. Zardari to resign.

The president reportedly was feeling the pressure. In 2009, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain that Mr. Zardari had told him the country’s main spy chief and “Kayani will take me out.”