US shipped fuses for nuclear-armed missiles to Taiwan
By Patrick Martin
28 March 2008
In what Pentagon officials said was a major breach in US nuclear weapons security, the Defense Logistics Agency has acknowledged shipping four large electrical fuses used in nuclear missile warheads to the Taiwanese military two years ago.
The four cone-shaped fuses, each about two feet tall, were sent in packing crates labeled as spare batteries for helicopters. They were finally returned to the United States last week, after the Taiwanese military notified the Pentagon.
The admission sparked an international uproar, with China complaining loudly over the supplying of such a sensitive weapons component to a regime that it regards as a bitter rival and potential military antagonist.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang issued a statement expressing “strong displeasure” and demanding the US provide an account to China to “eliminate the negative effects and disastrous consequences created by this incident.”
President Bush telephoned Chinese President Hu Jintao to assure him that the transfer was inadvertent and did not represent a shift in US policy towards Taiwan.
The Bush administration claimed that the fuses were not usable in Taiwan, since the country’s military has no intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), let alone those with nuclear warheads. All such assertions must be viewed skeptically, however, since the Pentagon has every reason to conceal the truth if a transfer of nuclear technology was actually intended.
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