The US government has rejected a request from the Taiwanese military for details on purchasing munitions for the air force, a defense magazine will report in next week's edition.
Taiwan submitted a letter of request -- the first step in forging a procurement agreement -- asking the US for price and availability data for joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs) kits and high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARMs), the UK-based military magazine Jane's Defence Weekly reported in a story for Jan. 18 posted early on its Web site.
The JDAM kit is designed to turn general-purpose bombs into "smart bombs," while the HARM is specifically designed to destroy enemy air defense installations by seeking out their radar signatures.
A Ministry of National Defense spokesman, when contacted by the Taipei Times, said he was unavailable and hung up the telephone when asked for comment on the issue, although he had initially agreed to speak to the paper.
A US defense source told Jane's that the decision to reject the letter of request was made by the US Department of State and the White House's National Security Council, partially because of recommendations made by the US' de facto embassy here, the American Institute in Taiwan.
"The State Department and the NSC seem to prefer that Taiwan[ese] bombs hit a neighboring hospital or kindergarten instead of what they were going after," the source told Jane's.
Various departments within the US government are often at odds over Taiwan policy, leading to sometimes bitter disputes between, for instance, officials from the State Department and military officers from the Pentagon.
A US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the move to prevent Taiwan from acquiring HARMs and JDAMs was "the latest in a long series of unnecessary blunders by the [George W.]Bush administration" over Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Jane's reported that the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology was working on domestically produced versions of the munitions systems based on equipment already in Taiwan's possession.
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