NBC Weapons: November 2, 2003

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Taiwan is again considering building nuclear weapons, considering it cheaper, and more practical, than buying new conventional weapons and reorganizing their armed forces. Given Taiwan's world class industrial capabilities and existing nuclear power plants, such a move could be carried out quickly (probably within a year.) Moreover, it could be done in secret, or at least as secret as the Israeli nuclear development program. Taiwan has been considering developing nuclear weapons since the 1960s. And the idea resurfaces every decade or so. But every time that happens, the United States rushes in with assurances that America will prevent China from invading Taiwan if the nuclear weapons program is dropped. But now the United States wants Taiwan to improve its own defenses. Unfortunately this involves buying up to $30 billion worth of modern weapons and spending billions more to shrink the army and increase the strength of the air force and navy. American military planners believe that any Chinese invasion attempt is going to be stopped with air power and warships. But the Taiwanese see that strategy being short circuited by the hundreds of ballistic missiles the Chinese are installing on the coast opposite Taiwan. For a few billion dollars, Taiwan can build nukes, and missiles to carry them, and then let the Chinese decide if an invasion would be worth the loss of several Chinese cities and much of their military force. Most Taiwanese don't want to spend a lot of money on defense (which is currently 2.6 percent of GPD), but do want to keep the Chinese military off their island. Nukes would do it, with more certainty than American promises, and less aggravation from American nagging about the state of the Taiwanese military.


 


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