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Taiwan and weapons of mass destruction

The Republic of China (Taiwan) denies having any weapons of mass destruction. There is no evidence of Taiwan possessing any chemical or nuclear weapons though it has pursued nuclear weapons in the past.


  • Nuclear weapons 1
    • Research program 1.1
    • Current status 1.2
  • Chemical weapons 2
  • Missile technology 3
  • Ratification of international treaties 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Nuclear weapons

Research program

The development of nuclear weapons by the Republic of China has been a contentious issue, as it had been triggered by PRC's first nuclear test in 1964.[1] The U.S., hoping to avoid escalating tensions in the Taiwan Strait, has continually opposed arming the Republic of China with nuclear weapons after 1979. Accordingly, the Republic of China adheres to the principles of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has stated that it does not intend to produce nuclear weapons, on the official basis. 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. The Republic of China 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.[2]

During the 1970s, the Republic of China had an active program to produce plutonium using heavy water reactors. However, after the International Atomic Energy Agency found evidence of the Republic of China's efforts to produce weapons-grade plutonium, Taipei agreed in September 1976 under U.S. pressure to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. A study by the Mitre Corporation in 1977 included Taiwan in a list of "insecure" nuclear threshold states—states with the technical capability to develop nuclear weapons and the security motivations to seriously contemplate such an option. The other states were Israel, South Africa, South Korea, and Yugoslavia.[3] U.S. intelligence believed that the Republic of China also had designed devices suitable for nuclear testing.[4] ROC successfully conducted its diminutive nuclear test in southern Taiwan in the 1980s.[5]

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 Republic of China President Lee Teng-hui proposed to reactivate the program, but was forced to back down a few days later after drawing intense criticism.[6]

Current status

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

The People's Republic of China has announced that any Republic of China 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 weapons of mass destructions have been rebuffed.

Chemical weapons

The Republic of China may be in possession of small quantities of sarin. However, the Republic of China 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.

Missile technology

In response to former Defense Minister Tsai Ming-hsien's announcement that the ROC has developed medium range missiles, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said that he "should be more conscious of national security". In this book "God Bless Taiwan," Tsai stated that the missile had been test fired in southern Taiwan on February 2008 and that its performance was credible.[7]

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 before PRC entered UN. 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, the ROC has stated that it will continue to abide by the NPT, notwithstanding Resolution 2758.[8] Taiwan was one of the original members of the NPT in 1968. After the People’s Republic of China took Taiwan’s place at the United Nations in 1971, in effect Taiwan ceased to be active as a participating party to the official NPT activities. However, it signed a trilateral agreement with the United States and the IAEA in 1971 stating that it would continue to abide by the terms of the NPT as a ratification party. While not a member of the IAEA, Taiwan does continue to subscribe to the IAEA’s safeguards under two agreements, INFCIRC/133 and INFCIRC/158.[9]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Roy, Denny (2003). Taiwan: A Political History. Cornell University Press.  
  3. ^ Report of the Nuclear Energy Policy Study Group, Nuclear Power Issues and Choices (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Co., 1977), p. 284.
  4. ^ "The 22 September 1979 Event" ( 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Albright, David; Gay, Corey (1 January 1998). "Taiwan: Nuclear nightmare averted".  
  7. ^ "MND declines to confirm whether Taiwan has medium-range missile."
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links

  • Deployments by country, 1951-1977 The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Nov/Dec 1999
  • United States Secretly Deployed Nuclear Bombs In 27 Countries and Territories During Cold War
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