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Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile fuses sent to Taiwan by Mistake

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Guest Wyndham

http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2008/03/...fuses3_032708w/

 

A day after the Defense Department announced it mistakenly shipped secret ballistic missile components, China expressed its “strong displeasure” over the error and it was revealed that Taiwanese officials were originally told to destroy the fuses.

 

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne said at a press conference Tuesday the Air Force sent Taiwan in August 2006 four fuses designed to trigger Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles instead of batteries for helicopters the U.S. originally planned to send.

 

Airmen shipped the four fuses encased in Minuteman III nose cones back in March 2005 from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., to the Defense Logistics Agency warehouse at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, since F.E. Warren was overstocked, Wynne said.

 

But instead of securing the fuses in classified storage areas, Principle Deputy Undersecretary for Defense Ryan Henry said the airmen stored the fuses at an unclassified site.

 

More than a year later, airmen at Hill took the fuses out of storage and shipped them to Taiwan. The Taiwanese military placed the boxed fuses in storage thinking they were helicopter batteries, a Pentagon official said, who asked not to use his name since the incident is under investigation.

 

Months after received the boxes, all four were opened and Taiwanese officials reported the mistaken shipment to U.S. leaders. The U.S. first asked Taiwan to destroy the equipment instead of returning it to the U.S. Once Air Force leaders found out the equipment was actually the ballistic missile fuses, Taiwan was asked to immediately return them to U.S. control.

 

“Within hours of us receiving the order to recover the item, Taiwan identified the location where the items were stored and allowed U.S. personnel to gain access and control,” a U.S. source said. “Their cooperation did not stop there. At unprecedented speed, they approved flight clearance, which enabled us to transport the items back to the U.S.”

 

The President and Secretary of Defense were both briefed about the shipment and airmen immediately rushed to return the fuses to U.S. control. All four fuses now reside at a base on U.S. soil.

 

“I cannot emphasize forcefully enough how strong the secretary feels about this matter and how disconcerting it is to him,” Henry said.

 

China demanded the U.S. conduct an investigation into the matter in a statement posted on their Foreign Ministry website. “We express our serious concern and strong dissatisfaction with this and have made solemn representations to the American side,” said the statement.

 

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates launched an investigation Wednesday headed by Admiral Kirkland Donald, director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, into who was responsible for the mistake and what caused it. In an official memo, Gates specified he wanted an initial assessment by April 15 and a final report within the next 60 days.

 

The missing fuses should have been accounted for during quarterly inventories of the stockpiles at Hill Air Force Base, Wynne said, which will be investigated by Donald’s team. The investigation will also look into if any tampering was done to the fuses while they were out of U.S. control.

 

Taiwan has a cruise missile program that started to take shape over the past few years, said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. A cruise missile capable of striking Shanghai or Hong Kong was successfully test fired in March 2007.

 

The Taiwanese military tried to develop a ballistic missile in the 1970s with the help of the Israelis, but those plans were scrapped by 1981. Taiwan continues to try to design a space launch vehicle to deploy satellites, which could quickly be redesigned to serve as a ballistic missile, but it has yet to demonstrate the capability, Kristensen said.

 

Wynne said U.S. officials are looking into whether any treaties were violated by the mistaken shipment, but the transport of helicopter batteries was not illegal.

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Psycho    0

Minuteman? Hey, that is what my last 10 wives called me.

 

 

 

http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2008/03/...fuses3_032708w/

 

A day after the Defense Department announced it mistakenly shipped secret ballistic missile components, China expressed its “strong displeasure” over the error and it was revealed that Taiwanese officials were originally told to destroy the fuses.

 

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne said at a press conference Tuesday the Air Force sent Taiwan in August 2006 four fuses designed to trigger Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles instead of batteries for helicopters the U.S. originally planned to send.

 

Airmen shipped the four fuses encased in Minuteman III nose cones back in March 2005 from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., to the Defense Logistics Agency warehouse at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, since F.E. Warren was overstocked, Wynne said.

 

But instead of securing the fuses in classified storage areas, Principle Deputy Undersecretary for Defense Ryan Henry said the airmen stored the fuses at an unclassified site.

 

More than a year later, airmen at Hill took the fuses out of storage and shipped them to Taiwan. The Taiwanese military placed the boxed fuses in storage thinking they were helicopter batteries, a Pentagon official said, who asked not to use his name since the incident is under investigation.

 

Months after received the boxes, all four were opened and Taiwanese officials reported the mistaken shipment to U.S. leaders. The U.S. first asked Taiwan to destroy the equipment instead of returning it to the U.S. Once Air Force leaders found out the equipment was actually the ballistic missile fuses, Taiwan was asked to immediately return them to U.S. control.

 

“Within hours of us receiving the order to recover the item, Taiwan identified the location where the items were stored and allowed U.S. personnel to gain access and control,” a U.S. source said. “Their cooperation did not stop there. At unprecedented speed, they approved flight clearance, which enabled us to transport the items back to the U.S.”

 

The President and Secretary of Defense were both briefed about the shipment and airmen immediately rushed to return the fuses to U.S. control. All four fuses now reside at a base on U.S. soil.

 

“I cannot emphasize forcefully enough how strong the secretary feels about this matter and how disconcerting it is to him,” Henry said.

 

China demanded the U.S. conduct an investigation into the matter in a statement posted on their Foreign Ministry website. “We express our serious concern and strong dissatisfaction with this and have made solemn representations to the American side,” said the statement.

 

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates launched an investigation Wednesday headed by Admiral Kirkland Donald, director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, into who was responsible for the mistake and what caused it. In an official memo, Gates specified he wanted an initial assessment by April 15 and a final report within the next 60 days.

 

The missing fuses should have been accounted for during quarterly inventories of the stockpiles at Hill Air Force Base, Wynne said, which will be investigated by Donald’s team. The investigation will also look into if any tampering was done to the fuses while they were out of U.S. control.

 

Taiwan has a cruise missile program that started to take shape over the past few years, said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. A cruise missile capable of striking Shanghai or Hong Kong was successfully test fired in March 2007.

 

The Taiwanese military tried to develop a ballistic missile in the 1970s with the help of the Israelis, but those plans were scrapped by 1981. Taiwan continues to try to design a space launch vehicle to deploy satellites, which could quickly be redesigned to serve as a ballistic missile, but it has yet to demonstrate the capability, Kristensen said.

 

Wynne said U.S. officials are looking into whether any treaties were violated by the mistaken shipment, but the transport of helicopter batteries was not illegal.

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