Taiwan turns down N.Korea's bid of AIP technology, due to UN sanctions

Timothy Hale, April 10, 2019, 9:35 a.m.


North Korea submitted a bid for a Taiwanese military submarine program last year, the island country's UPmedia reported Tuesday.

Sources told UPmedia that 16 countries including the U.S. and EU took an interest in the project, and to the Taiwanese military's surprise North Korea was among them.

Taipei launched the sub program with a budget of US$1.6 billion in 2016. UPmedia said a Taiwanese trading company submitted a letter of intent on behalf of the North, which is in dire need of hard currency amid international sanctions.

It offered to transfer design technology for air-independent propulsion (AIP) as well as for the North's homegrown 130-ton Salmon-class sub and 330-ton Shark-class sub.

A Salmon-class sub sank the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan in 2010.

That North Korea has the AIP technology at all came as a surprise to some.

The first contact came in August 2016, when a Taiwanese submarine expert visited the Chinese border town of Dandong to find out if the North was serious and really had the capability it was advertising.

It is likely that Pyongyang acquired or stole the AIP technology from Russia's Amur-class sub or China's Yuan-class sub.

In the end Taipei decided not to buy the technology since it was unlikely that the North would have been allowed to sell it under the UN sanctions.

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