Mon, Aug 12, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Richard D. Fisher, Jr. On Taiwan:The INF Treaty’s demise is good news for Taiwan

While the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty eliminated United States and Soviet missiles with a range of 500 kilometers to 5,500km from Europe at the end of the Cold War, this Treaty’s demise on August 2, 2019 is good news for Taiwan on three levels.

First, the Treaty’s demise means that the United States is free to redress a destabilizing imbalance of power with China and North Korea. When President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty on February 1, 2019, the White House also explained that China had “more than 1,000 INF Treaty-range missiles.” []

When considering the number of People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) bases with medium range (1,000km to 3,000km) ballistic missiles (MRBMs) such as the DF-21A/C/D and DF-16A/B, and intermediate range (3,000km to 5,500km) ballistic missiles (IRBMs) such as the DF-26, and the number of air-launched CJ-10/20 land attack cruise missiles (LACMs) carried by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) H-6K bombers, the number is about 920. However, when you add the reloads for these missiles, the total comes to almost 1,800, about the same number of missiles the Soviets originally eliminated to comply with the INF Treaty.

To this total must be added the PLARF’s arsenal of about 1,200 DF-11A and DF-15A/B/C short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), almost all of which target Taiwan. Also, the PLARF is close to deploying its new DF-17 hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) equipped missile. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) also may deploy a version of this missile. PLA medium, intermediate range, and especially HGV-equipped missiles, can overcome Taiwan’s expensive investment in anti-ballistic missile (ABM) interceptors.

According to a 2017 US Department of Defense report to the US Congress, North Korea has “fewer than 50” of its 3,200km range Hwasong-10 or Musudan ballistic missiles that can reach Taiwan from any location in North Korea. On July 23 North Korean state media revealed the advanced construction of a new conventional powered ballistic missile submarine that could carry two or three 2,000km range Pukkuksong-2 missiles. Should North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear missiles cause a military crisis involving South Korea, Japan, and the US, the chances of a Chinese decision to attack Taiwan could increase.

To increase missile defenses the Trump Administration is stressing development of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Aegis Ashore to counter MRBMs and IRBMs, and is now developing a successor the Patriot PAC 3 which counters SRBMs. To increase deterrence the US now plans to invest US$10 billion in at least seven ground, naval, and air-launched hypersonic missile and weapons programs. By 2024 the US Army wants to field a 600km range successor to its MGM-140 ATACMS SRBM, and a new larger artillery rocket with a 140km range.

America’s decision to redress the theater missile imbalance offers a second potential benefit for Taipei: the opportunity to move US policy to accept, and even support, Taiwan’s requirement for long-range missile deterrent capabilities. Since the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis Taipei has developed and deployed some long-range cruise missile and ballistic missile systems, but for the most part without US support, and with occasional opposition.

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