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United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

July 16, 2002


The Honorable Colin Powell

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, N.W.

Washington, DC 20520


Dear Mr. Secretary:

        We are writing to request a change in U.S. policy that will allow the transfer to Taiwan of the 120 AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) sold in 2000.  It is our understanding that it is U.S. policy that the missiles are not to be released to Taiwan unless there is evidence that China has similar missiles in its operation inventory.

        Indeed, developments over the last several weeks suggest that China has acquired such a capability.  According to recent press reports, China recently conducted two sets of Russian-made AA-12 Adder medium range air-to-air missile.

        We believe that China’s tests of the AA-12s should trigger the transfer the AIM-120’s to Taiwan as soon as they are produced.  We understand that these missiles are currently under production, and that the first eight will be finished next month.  Furthermore, we are told that there are negotiations underway for the sale of an additional 286 AIM-120’s, but that Taiwan’s legislature may not fund another contract unless the State Department’s policy is changed to allow the actual transfer of the missiles.

        The Defense Department’s June 2000 report on the military power of the People’s Republic of China concluded that, after 2005, “…if projected trends continue, the balance of air power across the Taiwan Strait could begin to shift in China’s favor, assuming no significant, concurrent improvement in Taiwan’s air capabilities.”

        It is clear that, absent U.S. transfer to Taiwan of the AIM-120 missiles, the introduction of the AA-12 into China’s arsenal represents a major shift in air power across the Taiwan Strait.  This means that we cannot afford to quibble over whether the AA-12 tests mean that China has an “operational” capability.  Therefore, we respectfully request that you allow the AIM-120’s to be released next month, whether it be through a determination that the trigger has been met, or through a policy change that recognizes the gravity of the situation.  We also strongly urge that the State Department make clear to Taiwan that the additional AIM-120’s under negotiation will also be transferred to Taiwan, rather than stored in the U.S.

        Thank you in advance for your prompt consideration of our request.  We look forward to your reply.



Jon Kyl                 Jesse Helms

Bob Smith            Robert Torricelli

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