Nuke Fluke: US Sent Missile Parts to Taiwan

Defense Dept. didn't realize error through nearly 2 years of Taiwanese queries
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2008 2:15 PM CDT
This U.S. Defense Department image shows an example missile component accidentally shipped to Taiwan.   (Public Domain)
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(Newser) – The US accidentally shipped components used in nuclear missiles to Taiwan in 2006, CNN reports. Instead of helicopter batteries, the Defense Department sent fuses designed to allow 1960s ballistic missiles to detonate; no actual nuclear material was involved. Taiwan quickly alerted the US to the error, but it wasn’t until this week that the US realized that the shipment contained missile parts.

"There were early communications,” a Pentagon official said, “but we thought we were hearing one thing, and in reality they were saying something different." US officials say they alerted China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province; they would not say how the Chinese reacted. Also under investigation is whether the shipment violated US or international laws on arms trade or nuclear materials.