U.S. accidentally delivered nuclear missile components to Taiwan

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Test launch of an LGM-30 Minuteman at the Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Pentagon made a public statement on Tuesday saying that four ICBM detonation fuses were accidentally delivered to Taiwan by the United States military back in 2006.

According to the Pentagon's official statement, the Taiwanese government had purchased helicopter batteries from the U.S, but instead received four nose cone fuses by accident in the autumn of 2006. The U.S. government was notified of the mistake by Taiwanese officials earlier in 2008, and the full extent of the mistake was finally realized last week.

On Tuesday, the fuses were returned to the United States, and an investigation was launched to determine the cause of the accidental shipment. A U.S. government official cited an error in labeling as a possible cause of the incident.

Taiwan has disputed parts of the Pentagon's claim. While the Pentagon stated that Taiwan only alerted the U.S. of the error recently, a spokesperson for the Taiwanese military argued that the United States military was notified by Taiwanese officials immediately after the delivery of the fuses. The U.S. responded by saying it was informed of the mistake, but was not told that Taiwan received the nose cone fuses and was therefore not aware of the full extent of the situation.

China has issued a statement in response to the incident, criticizing the U.S. for its negligence and demanding for the cessation of arms sales to Taiwan.

The accidentally-delivered nose cone fuses are designed to be employed in the LGM-30 Minuteman, an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.