The US-Taiwan Business Council comments on Congressional Notifications for Taiwan Arms Sales
While there has been a delay of over 7 months for 8 separate Congressional Notifications (CNs) for arms sales to Taiwan, on October 3 the U.S. Department of State released six items for notification: Javelin, Harpoon, spare aircraft parts, PAC-III, E-2T retrofit, and Apache. The total DSCA estimated cost is US$6.463 billion.
Two of the programs in the original request were omitted – the submarine Phase I design program and the Black Hawk program – while the PAC-III program was reduced. [The original request included the Harpoon anti-ship missiles; Apache helicopters (x30 units); PAC-III (x7 units, 6 operational batteries + 1 training battery); diesel-electric submarine design – Phase I; airplane spare parts (mostly for fighters); E-2T retrofit; UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters (x60 units); and Javelin anti-vehicle missiles.]
It seems as if the Bush Administration’s intention today was to create an overall package based on a dollar figure. They viewed the Black Hawks as a large but not controversial program, and therefore it was one they could punt into 2009 with a degree of confidence that the incoming U.S. administration would not view it as controversial and would likely send it to the Hill. Omitting the submarines was not controversial within decision-making circles, and in the case of PAC-III it pared back the buy to reduce its overall cost.
The impasse over arms sales has done immeasurable damage to the U.S.-Taiwan relationship over the past several years, and these Congressional Notifications – while very late and incomplete – are an important and positive step forward in US-Taiwan relations. However, it has taken over 10 months for the notifications to accumulate – an unprecedented action irrespective of Bush Administration claims that this was part of a normal inter-agency process. There is simply no existing example of notifications being stacked in such a manner.