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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 37, May 1999

Missile Defence Developments

On 30 April, the New York Times reported that the US had agreed to sell Taiwan with an early-warning radar system to detect the launch of ballistic missiles from China. The decision was apparently opposed by some officials in both the White House and State Department, presumably out of concern of a strong reaction from Beijing. In the context of accelerating plans for ballistic missile defence systems in Asia involving the US, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, China is expressing the gravest concern that a serious strategic destabilisation of the region is in prospect. See Documents and Sources for details of a 4 May US Department of Defense report, prepared for Congress, on theater missile defense (TMD) "architecture options" for the Asia-Pacific region.

Referring to the Times report, Yu Shunning, a spokesperson from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, told reporters (12 May): "We have made serious representations with the US side. We say that any arms sales to Taiwan by any country in the world constitutes an infringement on Chinese sovereignty, an interference in our internal affairs."

On 30 April, Israel's Defence Minister, Moshe Arens, spoke of his hope that his Government's Arrow anti-missile system, expecting to enter operation before the end of 1999, might be able to provide defence for Israel's neighbours. The Arrow system, Arens told the Associated press, "is not limited to political boundaries":

"So we foresee that in time we will have a system that will provide protection for Israel, for the area populated by Palestinians, or Jordan, and for Turkey... I don't doubt they will be happy to receive protection against ballistic missiles."

Reports: US to sell Taiwan radar to monitor China - NYT, Reuters, 30 April; Israel mulls new missile defense, Associated Press, 1 May.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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