China: May 18, 2000


Taiwan has strongly denied a report in the authoritative journal DEFENSE AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS claiming that it has bought two nuclear warheads originally built by South Africa. D&FA also reported that Taiwan has mounted the warheads on "medium range ballistic missiles" which Taiwan insists it does not have and could not even build. The deal to buy the warheads was reportedly brokered by "an intermediate Middle Eastern country" (which is generally assumed to be Israel). The Chinese People's Liberation Army has published battle plans for a putative invasion of Taiwan in its public journals, calling for a lightning campaign landing hundreds of thousands of troops. While the point of these plans is to capture Taiwan in a week (before the US could intervene), there are numerous problems (lack of landing craft, an assumption in the plans that few of these landing craft will be destroyed at sea, an assumption of Chinese air superiority) that make the plans less than fool proof. While China has threatened to hit the US with a half dozen nuclear missiles if the US used nuclear weapons to defend Taiwan, even a tiny Taiwanese nuclear arsenal could change the entire equation. --Stephen V Cole


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