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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. senators concerned about freeze on arms sales to Taiwan

ROC Central News Agency

Washington, July 7 (CNA) A group of U.S. senators have written to President George W. Bush to express their concerns about reports of a possible freeze on all arms sales to Taiwan.

Noting that the U.S. government is legally bound under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) to provide Taiwan with the "defense articles and services that enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability, " the senators said any freeze on arms sales to Taiwan violates the spirit of the TRA.

The letter dated June 30 was signed by 14 senators led by James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) , co-chairs of the Senate Taiwan Caucus.

The Bush administration is reportedly sitting on congressional notifications related to a number of weapons systems requested by Taiwan, including sea-launched Harpoon missiles, Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries, 30 Apache helicopters, and 66 F-16 fighter aircraft.

The Senators said they have made attempts to clarify the status of these requests but to no avail.

"We request a briefing on the status of these sales from all appropriate agencies, and urge the administration to expeditiously execute consideration of these requests," they said in the letter.

The Senators said the military and strategic imperatives for Taiwan are "real and urgent, " pointing out that according to an estimate by the Pentagon, China's total defense spending for 2007 could be as high as US$139 billion -- more than triple the amount publicized by Beijing.

"Taiwan has a right to be 'secure, ' and that can only be guaranteed by an unambiguous and non-negotiable commitment from the United States to provide Taiwan with weapons systems consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act," they said.

Echoing the Senators' call, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) -- a Washington-based overseas Taiwanese group -- urged the Bush administration Monday to process the arms sales to Taiwan as soon as possible to maintain the military balance across the Taiwan Strait and secure regional peace and stability.

According to FAPA President Bob Yang, the United States should help Taiwan preserve its democracy and freedom, and delaying arms sales to Taiwan will undermine Taiwan's ability to protect its sovereignty and reduce its bargaining chips in negotiating with China. (By Chiehyu Lin and Y.F. Low) ENDITEM/ls 


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