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US nuclear umbrella would bolster Taiwan's security

Defense analysts say nuclear deterrence benefits Taiwan under certain circumstances

U.S. LGM-30 Minuteman ballistic missile launch. ( photo)

U.S. LGM-30 Minuteman ballistic missile launch. ( photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — If Taiwan is incorporated into the U.S. nuclear umbrella, it would enhance the nation’s ability to withstand nuclear threats, defense experts said recently.

The nuclear umbrella is a promise by a nuclear weapons state to provide security for a non-nuclear weapons state.

Institute for National Defense and Security Research Director Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said that Taiwan's policy is to refrain from developing weapons of mass destruction or nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, Liberty Times reported. However, Taiwan still faces threats from these types of weapons, Su said. If partner countries are willing to include Taiwan under a nuclear umbrella, it would serve as an extended form of deterrence, he said, adding that it would also greatly boost Taiwan's security and provide additional protection.

Su emphasized that deterrence can be categorized into nuclear deterrence and conventional deterrence. Taiwan operates under a conventional deterrence framework, which relies on traditional forces and weapons such as mines, missiles, and rockets, he said. If Taiwan adopted a nuclear deterrence framework, it would significantly enhance its security and reduce the threat of nuclear coercion.

National Chung Hsing University Graduate Institute of International Politics assistant professor Lu Hsin-chi (盧信吉) said that both domestic and international factors needed to be considered in order to identify the benefits of nuclear deterrence, per Liberty Times.

The outcome of Taiwan’s presidential election next year will play a crucial role as it reflects the will of the Taiwanese and directly impacts the international community's assessment of the situation in the Taiwan Strait, Lu said. At the international level, if the U.S. provides nuclear protection for Taiwan, it may cross China's bottom line, prompting a higher-level response from Beijing, he said.

The professor pointed out that nuclear protection is currently the most potent means of deterrence that would put significant pressure on China.

Lu said that only when there is a certain consensus between the global community and Taiwan will the U.S. be prepared to provide some degree of support. For example, U.S. nuclear submarines could pass through the waters surrounding the Taiwan Strait rather than entering Taiwanese ports.

On Monday (May 22), Taiwan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) confirmed there has been communication regarding whether the U.S. will include Taiwan under its nuclear umbrella.

Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and NATO countries all fall under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. During the Cold War, Taiwan secretly launched its own research program to develop its own nuclear weapons. However, due to U.S. pressure, it ultimately halted all efforts.