(CBS/AP) China on Wednesday strongly protested the U.S. military's mistaken delivery to Taiwan of intercontinental ballistic missile electrical fuses, demanding an investigation and steps to "eliminate the negative effects and disastrous consequences."
In a statement posted on the ministry's Web site, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China had brought a "serious representation" to Washington and expressed "strong displeasure" over the error.
The U.S. Defense Department said Tuesday that the Air Force had mistakenly shipped to Taiwan four electrical fuses designed for use on intercontinental ballistic missiles. The fuses have since been recovered and an investigation launched.
At the Pentagon, CBS News National Security correspondent David Martin reports that although the U.S. is constantly wringing its hands about the nightmare scenario of loose nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, this was another egregious case of the Pentagon not being able to keep track of its own nuclear weapons.
While the shipment did not include nuclear materials, the error is particularly sensitive because Beijing vehemently opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the self-governed island that China considers its own territory. Four of the cone-shaped fuses were shipped to Taiwanese officials in fall 2006 instead of the helicopter batteries they had ordered.
Hey, at least we're getting to the bottom of these things in a timely manner. And I don't know how you confuse these things with helicopter batteries, but whatever. They were obviously sent to Taiwan to avoid detection with a built-in plausible deniability story concocted to make it all seem innocent. These items were obviously sent through a reverse engineering process, whereby the Taiwanese could quietly study and develop their own versions, if not set up something where they could make these things for us. Money changed hands, the transfer of the technology was done, and they'll probably get away with this.
The bottom line is, someone needs to sweep out the God boys and restore trust in the leadership of the United States Air Force.