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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


ROC Central News Agency

2005-08-23 15:55:26

    Taipei, Aug. 23 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense's plan to include part of the purchase of U.S. arms in its regular budget has met with approval by the opposition Kuomintang's (KMT) legislative caucus, with a KMT legislator saying Tuesday that his party is now willing to look at the plan and discuss it within the party's legislative caucus.

    Tseng Yung-chuan, also the executive director of the party's Policy Committee, made the remarks one day after Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng revealed that one of the three items in the arms package will be listed under the defense ministry's regular budget.

    Tseng said that the KMT has always wanted an arms procurement package that would serve the purpose of defending the nation and one that was not foisted upon Taiwan by the U.S. Also, the KMT does not want to see the bill for the weaponry being passed to future generations to have to pay, he said, adding that in the past, the party was opposed to the package because the defense ministry listed the procurement under a special budget.

    The defense ministry's arms procurement package calls for the purchase of eight diesel-electric submarines, six Patriot PAC III anti-missile batteries and a squadron of 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft from the United States at a cost of NT$480 billion (US$15 billion).

    The bill has been held up for two consecutive legislature sessions because of opposition by the "pan-blue alliance" of the KMT and its ally, the People First Party (PFP), which has said that the cost of the weaponry is too high and that any payments ought not come from a special budget.

    However, a lawmaker of the PFP said Tuesday that some KMT and PFP legislators have not studied the arms procurement package diligently and have "fallen into the trap" of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

    PFP Legislator Lin Yu-fang made the remarks following media reports that said Minister of National Defense Lee Jye briefed the DPP legislative caucus the previous day, saying that the budget for the six Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile batteries will be funded out of the regular budget.

    Lin said that the question surrounding the arms procurement project is not whether it will be paid for by a special or regular budget. They are both funded by taxpayers' money, he said.

    What matters is whether it is really necessary to buy outdated military hardware at an inflated price that may or may not meet the needs of the nation to defend itself, Lin said. Moreover, at issue is the question of whether the U.S. will offer reciprocal purchase opportunities for industrial equipment from Taiwan and if buying the weaponry will touch off an arms race across the Strait, negatively impacting cross-strait relations, he said.

(By Lilian Wu)



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