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Taiwan's NCSIST rejects claim missile sank Argentina submarine

Theory surrounding the destruction of the ARA San Juan sub in 2017 names Taiwanese weapons manufacturer

Photo of ARA San Juan propeller (Photo by ARG Navy / Ocean Infinity)

Photo of ARA San Juan propeller (Photo by ARG Navy / Ocean Infinity)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A controversial theory surrounding the destruction of an Argentinian submarine that sank in 2017 suggests that a missile manufactured in Taiwan was the cause of the ARA San Juan’s demise.

A foreign media report last week suggested that a component resembling part of a Hsiung-Feng anti-ship missile (雄風反艦飛彈), made by Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), was found near the wreckage of the ARA San Juan at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

After being reported by Taiwanese media, NCSIST issued a statement on March 19 rejecting the claim. The statement emphasized that the domestically produced Hsiung Feng missile has not been marketed or exported abroad.

A Spanish language media report by Sputnik News, published March 13, says that a naval engineer named Jorge Oscar Bojanic has filed a criminal complaint against the President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, and his administration.

According to the report, Bojanic claims that the ARA San Juan was conducting espionage in a combat zone, where at least 25 oil companies backed by private security forces are engaged in military operations.

The area where the San Juan was sunk in November 2017, and discovered a year later is referred to as “Ballena Viva” and is located 500 kilometers from the Argentinian coast line. The area is speculated to contain massive deposits of gas and oil.

The Spanish language report, picked up by UDN on March 18, cites an anonymous source who has reportedly seen photographs of the ARA San Juan’s wreckage located 940 meters below sea-level across a debris field of 70 to 75 meters.

Taiwan's NCSIST rejects claim missile sank Argentina submarine
ARA San Juan (Photo by ARG Navy/ Ocean Infinity)

The report claims that the anonymous source appeared in an Argentinian courtroom on March 7 where they stated that the booster of an anti-ship missile was seen near the remains of the submarine’s propellor.

The source reportedly identified the booster as a component of the Taiwanese Hsiung Feng missile, also claiming that “security companies use Taiwanese weapons, because they are less easily traced.”

NCSIST has called the report false, and stated that Taiwan has never sold any Hsiung Feng missiles to any foreign client, reports China Times.

The claim that the ARA San Juan was destroyed as a result of a missile strike in an active military theater runs counter to the official explanation offered by Argentinian authorities.

According to Rear Admiral David Burden, who spoke at a Congressional committee hearing in Buenos Ares on Tuesday, March 13, the reason for the San Juan’s destruction “was definitely an implosion,” reports Buenos Aires Times.

The official explanation offered by the Argentinian Navy is that the vessel began taking on water after it left the port of Ushuaia, en route to Mar Del Plata. The water is reported to have caused “short-circuiting and smoke,” and eventually the submarine “imploded” claims the Rear Admiral.

Burden reportedly traveled to Europe in early December to consult with the submarine’s manufacturer, Thyssen Nordseewerke, two weeks after the remains of the ARA San Juan were located on Nov. 16, 2018, one year after the initial incident.

Following the discovery of the submarine’s remains, Argentinian Defense Minister Oscar Aguad said that raising the submarine from the ocean floor would be too costly, and that the government did not have the means to conduct such an operation, reports Buenos Aires Times.