Monday, October 5, 2009

U.S. State Dept. Working Against CSIST?

Defense News


U.S. State Dept. Working Against CSIST?

Taiwan Sources Say Aim Is To Stop Missiles, Placate China

By Wendell Minnick

TAIPEI — The U.S. State Department is prohibiting the delivery of sensitive components to the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) here, according to Taiwan defense sources.

The State Department has since mid-2006 denied all requested end­user certificates on parts marked for CSIST, they said.

CSIST officials have met twice with U.S. officials to fix the problem, but to no avail.

Sources also said officials at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto U.S. embassy here, have been forbidden to visit or contact CSIST without prior permission.

An AIT spokesman denied this, saying there are “no restrictions on AIT having contact with CSIST.” The sources said State Department officials are trying to destroy Taiwan’s ability to produce indigenous missile systems, in particular the 600-kilometer range Hsiung Feng (HF)-2E land-attack cruise missile. The motive, they say, is to placate Beijing, which has been pressing Taiwan and the United States to kill the HF-2E.

“If China barks, the State Department jumps,” a former U.S. defense official said.

The missile, which is slated to begin production next year, will be able to cross the Taiwan Strait and strike land targets in China, which is 220 kilometers from Taiwan at the strait’s widest point, 130 kilometers at its narrowest.

Taiwan defense sources said the State Department has labeled the HF-2E an “offensive weapon.” That means the weapon is not covered under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which requires the United States to provide Taiwan with weapons of a “defensive character,” a former U.S. military official said.

The United States has denied previous requests from Taiwan for the Joint Direct Attack Munition and the AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile for the same reason, sources here said.

Asked about a blanket ban, a U.S. State Department press officer said, “All export licenses for defense articles and technology are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.” The press officer said, “U.S. government policy and decisions in this regard are based on a number of factors and must be fully consistent with U.S. National Security requirements, U.S. Export control laws and policies, and U.S. international commitments.” The official said Washington would continue to provide Taipei weapons and services of a “defensive character, as stipulated in the Taiwan Relations Act.”

AIT’s press officer, Larry Walker, said Washington “opposes any actions that might increase tensions or risk sparking conflict across the strait or threaten the safety of civilians.”

The Taiwanese sources note that the United States is selling U.S.-built missiles to Taiwan, including submarine-launched Harpoon missiles, equipped with coastal suppression kits; Maverick missiles Standard Missiles-2, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 air defense missiles and Javelin anti-tank missiles. They also say there is no U.S. effort to pressure China to reduce or eliminate the roughly 1,300 Dong Feng 11/15 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan.

CSIST is Taiwan’s primary military research and development organization, responsible for everything from radar to missile programs. It has developed a wide range of missiles, including the Tien Kung (Sky Bow) air defense missile series, Tien Chien (Sky Sword) air-to-air missiles, and the controversial Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) anti­ship missiles, along with the new HF­2E land-attack cruise missile.

U.S. defense firms have benefited from arms sales to Taiwan, including the $6.5 billion arms package released Oct. 3. The sale will generate not just revenue, but jobs in what is now an economically depressed U.S. market.

The United States has also benefited from a variety of unique intelligence-sharing agreements with Taiwan, including a signal intelligence facility run jointly by Taiwan’s National Security Bureau and the U.S. National Security Agency.

Located just north of Taipei on Yanmingshan Mountain at Ping­tun Li, it is one of numerous facilities to which the United States has access, including a surveillance radar facility on Tungying Island, just north of Matsu near China’s coast. These facilities provide Washington with a view into China not available from facilities in Japan or South Korea, sources said.