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Covert nuclear development in Taiwan was stopped, because a senior scientist feared danger

Colby Cosh: How Canada almost left the door to the nuclear club ajar … again, National Post, 14 Jan 19, 

Covert nuclear development in Taiwan was finally stopped cold because a senior scientist became convinced nukes were dangerous 

Maybe you have heard the story of how India got the Bomb with Canada’s inadvertent help. We sold India a nuclear reactor called CIRUS in 1954 on an explicit promise that the facility would only be used for peaceful purposes. When India astonished the world with its first nuke test in May 1974, having upgraded the fuel output from CIRUS, it duly announced that it had successfully created a Peaceful Nuclear Explosive. The permanent consequence was, for better or worse, a nuclear-armed Subcontinent.This is old news to enthusiasts of Cold War history. Here’s the new news: it almost happened twice. Canadian technology was almost used by another country to break into the nuclear club.

In November, historians David Albright and Andrea Stricker published a new book called Taiwan’s Former Nuclear Weapons Program: Nuclear Weapons On-Demand. The book pulls together the previously sketchy story of Nationalist China’s covert nuclear research, which had its roots in the postwar exodus of Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang party (KMT). Albright and Stricker describe decades of effort by the offshore Republic of China on Taiwan to play a double game with nuclear weapons. ………

The key to the story is the 40-megawatt uranium-fuelled Taiwan Research Reactor (TRR), supplied, like CIRUS, by Canada. TRR was very similar to CIRUS in design and capability. The pile went critical in January 1973, giving Taiwan an indigenous source of plutonium. Under the sales agreement, the reactor was to be “safeguarded” by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), answering to its inspectors and accounting for the whereabouts of its fuel. But Taiwanese nuclear agencies immediately began to behave suspiciously, talking to some of the slimier European industrial concerns about buying reprocessing equipment that would allow weapons manufacture

……….Covert nuclear development in Taiwan was finally stopped cold because one of the Republic’s senior scientists, Chang Hsien-yi, became convinced that nukes were dangerous to the existence of the Republic……….  Email: ccosh@postmedia.com | Twitter:       https://nationalpost.com/opinion/colby-cosh-how-canada-almost-left-the-door-to-the-nuclear-club-ajar-again

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January 15, 2019 - Posted by | politics, Taiwan

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