The SS-793 Hai Lung diesel-electric submarine emerges from the water during a drill near Yilan on April 13, 2018. Photo: Reuters
RARE DISCLOSURE: The defense ministry said its submarine project was not receiving assistance only from the US, while denying North Korea had discussed helping Taiwan
/ Reuters, TAIPEI
European countries are helping with the indigenous submarine project, the Ministry of National Defense said, in a rare admission that the sensitive program is not receiving assistance solely from the US.
The US government in 2018 gave the green light for US manufacturers to participate in the program, a move widely seen as helping Taiwan secure major components, although it is unclear which US companies are involved.
In a statement late on Friday, the ministry denied a report in US-based magazine The National Interest, which cited Taiwanese news reports from 2019 as saying that North Korea had discussed helping Taiwan with the submarines.
“In the development of our submarines there has never been, there is not now and will never be any contact with North Korea; assistance is all provided by important countries in Europe and the United States,” the ministry said, without giving details.
European countries are generally wary of allowing arms sales to the nation due to fear of angering China, although in 2018 Taiwan said that it was talking to a company based in the British territory of Gibraltar about the new submarine fleet’s design.
Two of Taiwan’s four active submarines were built in the Netherlands in the 1980s, although the country refused to sell Taiwan any after that.
France has also sold Taiwan frigates and fighter jets.
Taiwan last year said that it was seeking to buy equipment from France to upgrade the ships’ missile interference systems.
CSBC Corp, Taiwan （台灣國際造船） began building the new submarines last year, aiming to deliver the first of the eight planned vessels in 2025.
Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng （邱國正） last month said that the US had approved the export of sensitive technology to equip the fleet.