Sun, Oct 16, 2005 - Page 1 News List

MND says US weapons it wants to buy are defensive

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Responding to comments by a top US military commander, Ministry of National Defense Spokesman Rear Admiral Liou Chih-chien (劉志堅) yesterday said that the ministry considers the three US arms systems it wishes to purchase to be defensive weapons.

"The procurement of eight diesel-powered submarines is aimed to deter China from a military attack on Taiwan, and also to boost protection of the countries' waterways," Liou told the Taipei Times yesterday. "The 12 P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft are able to detect and attack submarines, but are unable to attack land targets. And it goes without saying that the three PAC-3 Patriot missile batteries are defensive weapons."

Liou said the Ministry would seek to swiftly communicate with the US Pacific Command to clarify the US commander's remarks.

"The Ministry of National Defense still does not know if Admiral William Fallon's remarks represent his personal stance or that of the US Department of Defense," Liou said. "However, the ministry believes Washington has not changed its policy, by which it agreed to sell the three weapons systems to Taiwan in 2001."

Earlier this month, Defense Minister Lee Jye (李傑) said Fallon may have a different view on Taiwan's defense requirements, but that Taiwan would not change its policy of attempting to procure the three weapons systems.

Those remarks came in response to a query from a legislator about an opinion piece by Hawaii-based writer Richard Halloran, which said that the US Pacific Command has "quietly encouraged Taiwan to strengthen its defenses ... [and] forego high-tech weapons that could be employed in offensive operations."

Lee said that with the arms procurement bill still in limbo and the possibility of cross-strait unification in the future, some Americans may be concerned that advanced military technology could fall into China's hands if Taiwan were to procure high-tech weaponry from the US now.

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