MND ISSUES POSITION PAPER ON REFERENDUM QUESTIONS
Taipei, Feb. 18 (CNA) Minister of National Defense Tang Yiau-min confirmed Wednesday that the Ministry of National Defense (MND) has issued a position paper on its anti-missile forces build-up plan in preparation for Taiwan's first-ever referendum.
Tang made the confirmation at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan's National Defense Committee where opposition People First Party Legislator Ku Chung-lien unveiled an MND position paper saying the ministry has been working on an anti-missile battery deployment plan since 1997 and will begin to implement a Patriot anti-missile battery procurement project in 2005.
The MND position paper makes it clear, Ku pointed out, that no matter what the results of the March 20 referendum will be, the ministry's plan to purchase advanced anti-missile weaponry systems will not be affected. "Against this backdrop, do we really need to hold a referendum alongside the March 20 presidential election?" Ku asked.
Tang did not answer Ku's question directly, saying only that the MND has explained its stance "based on professionalism." Tang also refrained from revealing to whom copies of the position paper have been distributed.
In the upcoming referendum, the electorate will be asked whether Taiwan should acquire more missiles to defend itself against military threats from mainland China and whether the island should enter talks with Beijing for the establishment of a framework for peaceful interaction.
The MND position paper points out that mainland China's missile threats have existed for a long time and that the mainland has so far refused to renounce the option of using force against Taiwan.
According to the position paper, the mainland now has more than 100 strategic ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads that can strike any country in the world. In the future, the position paper says, the mainland's strategic missiles, which are of various configurations and types, including Dongfeng 3, 4, 5, 5A, 21, 21A and 31, will be able to be fired from any waters around the globe.
In addition, the position paper says, the mainland has deployed about 500 tactical ballistic missiles of four types -- Dongfeng 11, 11A, 15 and 15A -- along its southeastern coast opposite Taiwan. Each mainland tactical missile is armed with multiple highly explosive warheads. These tactical missiles can not only strike any area of Taiwan but can also hit major U.S. military bases in South Korea, Okinawa and elsewhere in Japan.
Noting that the mainland's annual tactical missile output ranges between 50 and 75 units, the position paper predicts that the number of tactical missiles deployed in coastal mainland provinces will exceed 600 by 2005.
The position paper further says that the mainland's tactical missiles are mobile and tightly guarded and require only a short preparatory time prior to launch. Their accuracy rate has been largely increased with the installation of satellite positioning systems.
In the face of the intensified missile build-up, the position paper says, Taiwan must beef up its anti-missile defense capabilities.
(By Sofia Wu)
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