There has been no indication that the US is to pause or alter arms sales to Taiwan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday, after Washington placed a hold on weapons sales to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.
The ministry is keeping an eye on reports regarding suspension of arms sales to certain countries, but has yet to see Taiwan come up, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said during a news briefing in Taipei.
Ou said that communication between Taiwan and the US has been smooth, adding that Taipei has not received notice from Washington about a change in arms sales.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times
On the contrary, it has been repeatedly hearing reassurances from multiple channels that the US remains committed to Taiwan, with the US Department of State on Saturday last week issuing an official statement calling the commitment of US President Joe Biden’s administration’s “rock solid,” she added.
Washington had during the administration of former US president Donald Trump over the past four years announced 11 arms sales to Taiwan, including five packages in the second half of last year that included 11 high Mobility Artillery Rocket System M142 launchers, 100 Harpoon coastal defense systems and four MQ-9B uncrewed aerial vehicles.
All Washington’s arms sales to Taipei are under way per relevant procedure, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Shih Shun-wen (史順文) said.
Concern over weapons sales to Taiwan arose following reports that Washington had put a temporary hold on some of its largest pending arms sales, including a Trump administration effort to sell F-35 jets to the UAE and smart bombs to Saudi Arabia.
The US Department of State is pausing the implementation of those agreements and others to allow the new Biden administration an opportunity to determine whether they meet current US objectives, said a department official, who asked not to be identified.
The official characterized the pause as routine. It was not clear how long it may be in place.
The hold includes one on the UAE’s long-sought effort to acquire Lockheed Martin Corp-built F-35 jets, a request that was granted in the final months of the Trump administration after the Gulf nation signed a peace deal with Israel.
The US Congress has already cleared the arms agreement, although even without the latest delay, it could take years to finalize.
The Biden administration would likely be loath to cancel the UAE deal because it could put at risk that nation’s peace agreement with Israel — a Trump administration accomplishment that has been praised by Biden.
The UAE deal includes US$10.4 billion for 50 F-35A jets, US$10 billion for different models of air-to-ground missiles and other munitions, and US$2.9 billion for 19 MQ-9 Reaper drones capable of carrying munitions plus ground equipment.
The US pause also includes a hold on issuing a formal commercial license to Raytheon Technologies Corp to sell Saudi Arabia 7,500 precision-guided, air-to-ground munitions valued at US$478 million. Raytheon can sell the weapons directly to the Saudi Arabian government after receiving the license.
Raytheon officials previewed the sales pause to analysts on Tuesday during the firm’s fourth-quarter earnings call, though they did not name the country or munitions involved.
“We had assumed that we were going to get a license to provide these offensive weapon systems to our customer... [but] with the change in administration, it becomes less likely that we’re going to be able to get a license for this and so we appropriately decided that we could no longer support the booking of that contract” as a sale, Raytheon CEO Gregory Hayes said.
Included in the pending sale are Raytheon’s Paveway IV smart bomb, the most advanced version of which includes inertial navigation/GPS and laser-guidance for all-weather attacks.
The US had sold about 8,000 earlier model Paveways as part of a 2015 deal that included about 5,000 other munitions.
Additional reporting by Wu Shu-wei
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