- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2001

The Pentagon has begun the process of procuring up to eight diesel-powered submarines for Taiwan and is anticipating "political problems" from China in the process, U.S. government officials said yesterday.
The process is being directed by the Defense Cooperation Security Agency, which already has begun contacting foreign governments in search of a submarine-design license.
The agency is looking for a design that can be licensed to one of two U.S. shipbuilders that would bid for the contract, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The governments of Germany and the Netherlands said Tuesday they would not help the United States by licensing the design of their diesel submarines.
"The Germans have a good design. The Dutch have a good design. I believe the Italians — there are good designs for diesel electric submarines out there," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley told reporters on Tuesday.
But a U.S. government official said yesterday that the administration expects China to take steps behind the scenes to make it hard to procure design plans.
"There are a lot of different ways it could be done," said the official. "There are other producers besides the Netherlands and Germany. That said, there are going to be political problems with all third parties."
Chinas communist government is very aggressive in threatening economic retaliation against any nation that provides arms or military assistance to Taiwan.
Other nations that could be provide a submarine design for the submarine deal include Australia, Britain and Japan.
Another possibility is that a U.S. shipbuilder could construct the submarines from scratch. However, officials said that would sharply increase the costs for the weapons.
"The cheapest way is to purchase an existing design and build it here," the official said.
Asked about the difficulties in getting a design license, Adm. Quigley said: "We are reasonably sure that if the Taiwanese wish to come through us to obtain submarines, then we will find a way to make that work… . We are confident that we can find a way to make that happen."
The United States does not manufacture diesel submarines and officials said the most likely builder would be the Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi.
Ingalls officials have told the U.S. government they would be able to construct the submarines based on a foreign design.
President Bush on Monday approved the sale of the submarines to bolster Taiwans defenses against a Chinese blockade or submarine attack.
The Taiwanese are expected to go ahead with the purchase because of the buildup of Chinese naval forces opposite the island. China recently purchased two guided-missile destroyers from Russia and also is buying four Kilo-class attack submarines.
In addition to the submarines, which in the past were rejected by the Clinton administration as offensive arms, the Bush administration has approved the sale of Mark 48 torpedos, among the Navys most capable weapons.
The administration also approved the sale of Harpoon anti-ship missiles that can be fired from the submarines.



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