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Republic of China and weapons of mass destruction: Wikis


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The Republic of China (ROC), also known as Taiwan, denies having any weapons of mass destruction. There is currently no evidence of Taiwan possessing any chemical or nuclear weapons.


Nuclear weapons


Research program

The development of nuclear weapons by Taiwan has been a contentious issue, as it has been cited by the PRC as a reason to attack Taiwan[citation needed]. The U.S., hoping to avoid escalating tensions in the Taiwan Strait, has continually opposed arming Taiwan with nuclear weapons. Accordingly, Taiwan adheres to the principles of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has stated that it does not intend to produce nuclear weapons. Past nuclear research by the ROC makes it a 'threshold' nuclear state.

In 1967, a nuclear weapons program began under the auspices of the Institute of Nuclear Energy Research (INER) at the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology. Taiwan was able to acquire nuclear technology from abroad (including a research reactor from Canada and low-grade plutonium from the United States) allegedly for a civilian energy system, but in actuality to develop fuel for nuclear weapons.[1]

During the 1970s, Taiwan had an active program to produce plutonium using heavy water reactors. However, after the International Atomic Energy Agency found evidence of Taiwan's efforts to produce weapons-grade plutonium, Taipei agreed in September 1976 under U.S. pressure to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. U.S. Intelligence believed Taiwan also had designed devices suitable for nuclear testing.[2]

A secret program was revealed when Colonel Chang Hsien-yi, deputy director of nuclear research at INER who was secretly working for the CIA defected to the U.S. in December 1987 and produced a cache of incriminating documents. General Hau Pei-tsun claimed that scientists in Taiwan had already produced a controlled nuclear reaction. Under pressure from the U.S., the program was halted.

During the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, then Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui proposed to reactivate the program, but was forced to back down a few days later after drawing intense criticism.

Current status

There is no evidence that the ROC possesses any nuclear weapons or any current programs to produce them, although it does have the general technological ability to develop the ability to enrich uranium or process plutonium. All of Taiwan's nuclear power plants currently use imported enriched uranium and are subject to International Atomic Energy Agency inspection.

The People's Republic of China has announced that any Taiwanese possession of nuclear weapons is grounds for an immediate attack. Attempts by ROC officials to form a dialogue with the PRC on the subject of WMDs have been rebuffed.

Chemical weapons

Taiwan may be in possession of small quantities of sarin. However, the Taiwan government has stated that any such materials are only for defensive research purposes and that it does not have any intention of producing offensive chemical weapons.

Ratification of international treaties

The Republic of China ratified the Geneva Protocol on August 7, 1929 and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970. Following UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 (1971) the United Nations does not recognize the Republic of China as a legitimate political entity, and as such does not recognize any right that the ROC has to join international multilateral treaties. Because of its controversial political status, the ROC has not been allowed to join either the Biological Weapons Convention nor the Chemical Weapons Convention, but it has stated that it will abide by both treaties nevertheless. In addition, it has stated that it will continue to abide by the NPT, notwithstanding controversy over its political status.

See also


  1. ^ Roy, Denny. Taiwan: A Political History. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-8805-2. 
  2. ^ "The 22 September 1979 Event" (PDF). Interagency Intelligence Memorandum. National Security Archive. December 1979. pp. 5 (paragraph 4). Retrieved 2006-11-01. 

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