Sat, Jun 26, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Russia could make subs for Taiwan

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Russia may become the source for eight diesel-powered submarines that Taiwan intends to buy from the US, the Washington Times reported Friday.

Quoting a Pentagon official, the paper said, Russian President Vladimir Putin has quietly signed off on the deal on the condition that the submarines are sold to the US.

"If the Americans resell them [to Taiwan], it's none of Russia's business," the Pentagon official quoted Putin as having told US officials.

Other options call for using another European design or building the submarines from the US Barbell-class diesel submarine design, the paper said.

Meanwhile, two legislators who visited the US with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) insisted yesterday that renegotiating on the price for the arms deal with the US and assembling the submarines domestically were necessary.

"The US admitted during our visit that the estimated price was too high, because they measured the cost of maximum spending. The US authorities said that the next time we demand the builders to bid again, the price would not be as high." People First Party Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said.

"It is also important that we will be allowed to assemble the submarines domestically because it has become a trend for countries to build their own submarines, and the legislature has also passed the resolution that Taiwan should assemble its own submarines," Lin said.

"If we refer to the experiences of Pakistan, India, Greece and South Korea, China Shipbuilding Corp (中船) is definitely capable of building submarines as soon as the US passes technical details to the corporation," Lin said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) meanwhile pointed out that while President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said if the legislature did not grant the budget plan for the arms deal before the US presidential election, the deal might not be sustained afterwards, the US sent no such signals to visiting legislators.

Lin and Lu returned early from Washington yesterday, skipping the group's last stop at El Paso, Texas.

Regarding the P-3C maritime patrol aircraft, Lin said he hoped Taiwan did not have to purchase as many aircraft since the US would start to manufacture a more advanced maritime patrol aircraft in a few years, and Taiwan should consider to purchase models more advanced than the P-3C in the future.

"The arms deal this time costs over NT$610 billion, and the US still needs to provide further detailed information for the legislature's review. I don't support the idea of reviewing and passing the budget plan in a rush during the extra legislative sittings in summer," Lu said.

"Instead the budget plan should wait till the new legislative session starts in September to undergo the normal legislative review process. It should undergo the review from the National Defense Committee, and after the committee reaches a consensus, then it can be discussed on the floor," Lu said.

Both Lin and Lu said that the Ministry of National Defense did not bargain for the best deal during previous negotiations with the US, but the legislators visiting the US had pressured the US to concede on certain issues. They demanded the ministry strive for better deals in the future.

Meanwhile, Wang led the rest of the legislators in examining the PAC-III Patriot anti-missile batteries in El Paso, Texas, yesterday.

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