Tue, Oct 30, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Chungshan director dismisses nuclear claim

By Jimmy Chuang and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology Director Vice Admiral Kung Chia-cheng (龔家政) yesterday dismissed an opposition legislator's claim that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had asked the institute to develop nuclear weapons.

"This is a total fabrication, a groundless rumor," Kung said when approached by reporters after attending a meeting at the legislature's National Defense Committee to review the institute's annual budget.

"We have never conducted any research and development of nuclear weapons. We do not have qualified personnel for that kind of research, neither do we have the necessary equipment," Kung said in response to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Su Chi's (蘇起) allegations on Oct. 19 that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government was developing nuclear weapons amid a rising military threat from China.

Kung said that all nuclear matters -- mainly relating to nuclear power -- had been transferred to the Cabinet's Atomic Energy Council in 1988, adding that the institute had no plans to recruit personnel or purchase any specialized equipment to conduct nuclear research.

Asked about Kung's response, Su stood by his claims, saying that his source -- "an important DPP legislator" -- said the president had ordered the development of nuclear weapons.

Su said his source told him the news during a gathering, where "many DPP legislators were present," after the Double Ten National Day, but the source did not specify when the president gave the order.

"I believe President Chen criticized me harshly [over the allegation] because he wanted to silence these DPP legislators," Su said, declining to reveal his source's identity.

"But I think it is highly likely that the president gave the order ... or this ranking DPP legislator would not have expressed his worries during the luncheon," he said.

Su said his source's information was "highly credible" because the president was in a "difficult political situation" and probably gave the order in a "desperate" bid to protect himself.

Chen might use the development of nuclear weapons as a bargaining chip to seek political asylum in the US to escape possible imprisonment over his role in the "state affairs" fund probe after his presidential term expires, Su said, without providing evidence.

Su said he believed the institute would continue to deny his claims until the project is completed.

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