Tue, May 16, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan needs UAE vehicles, minister says

OFFENSIVE WEAPON The defense minister said that plans to buy the vehicles had been proposed long before the president made his stopover in Abu Dhabi

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) yesterday confirmed that the ministry is proposing to buy a number of SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDVs) from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The vehicles would be of great value in the country's defense, Lee said.

"The SDVs are capable of damaging China's vehicles. If China's ships attempt to gather in harbors before launching a military attack on Taiwan, the SDVs could sneak up to the harbors and attach mines on the Chinese ships," Lee told the legislature's National Defense Committee yesterday.

Lee said that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators were mistaken in their claim that the government had proposed to buy the vehicles from the UAE in exchange for allowing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to make a stopover in Abu Dhabi.

Actually, Lee said, the ministry had proposed the procurement of SDVs from the UAE at the beginning of last year.

"It is an offensive weapon which this country has found difficult to procure internationally, so we considered buying it from the UAE," he said.

He said that the SDVs were also being used by the US Navy's SEAL special forces.

"The budget proposal for their procurement will be tabled at the next legislative session in the fall," Lee said.

He said that he was not confident that the SDV proposal would gain the legislature's support, in light of the controversy surrounding the proposed purchase of three advanced weapons systems from the US.

KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said that the proposed purchase of between eight and 12 SDVs, valued at around NT$1.6 billion (US$50.82 million), would be useless in the current cross-strait situation.

He said that National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Parris Chang (張旭成) was the key man behind the president's transit stop in Abu Dhabi as well as the plans to buy SDVs.

"The defense ministry should not listen to the National Security Council and should propose arms procurements which are really necessary for defense," Lin said.

KMT Legislator Su Chi (蘇起) said that the government had to be aware of the involvement of a Lebanese man named Iskandar Safa in the proposed sale.

Safa is an international arms broker who has been on France's wanted list since 2004 over his alleged involvement in a French arms-sale scandal, Su said.

Speaking at a press conference in Taipei yesterday, Su displayed a photo of Safa sitting with other Libyan guests in the Presidential Office.

This proved his close relations with Taiwan and Libya, Su said.

Lee said he had no idea what Su was talking about.

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