A diplomatic cable, also known as a diplomatic telegram or embassy cable, is the term given to a confidential text message exchanged between a diplomatic mission, like an embassy or a consulate, and the foreign ministry of its parent country.
The term cable derives from the time when the medium for such communications was international submarine communications cables. The term cablegram is also sometimes used. Today such messages are often sent by shortwave radio or dedicated high security communication satellite links. Due to their importance and the sensitive nature of the subject matter, diplomatic cables are protected by the most elaborate security precautions to prevent unfettered access by the public, and unauthorized interception by foreign governments. They are always encrypted, frequently by unbreakable one time pad cyphers using key material distributed using diplomatic couriers.
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