Taiwan’s foreign minister said last week that the US and Taiwan are in talks on the possibility of the island being brought under Washington’s nuclear umbrella, a step that would make a catastrophic war between the US and China much more likely.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu made the comments before Taiwan’s parliament, the Legislative Yuan. Wu declined to detail the talks when pressed if Taiwan had asked the US to bring the island into its nuclear umbrella.
"Regarding the discussion of this issue with the United States, it is not suitable for me to make it public here," Wu said, according to The South China Morning Post.
Many of the US’s allies are considered to be under the protection of the US nuclear umbrella, including Japan, South Korea, and every member of NATO.
Giving such a guarantee to Taiwan would mean the US could use nuclear weapons if China invades the island or if war breaks out by other means. According to the SCMP report:
As Washington and Beijing ramp up their military signaling on Taiwan, the self-ruled island has started to discuss what was once unthinkable – to come under the US nuclear umbrella that has successfully protected Japan, South Korea and Australia for decades.
The debate was set off after Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu suggested on Monday that the island had been in talks with the United States on the nuclear umbrella issue.
Such a guarantee is unlikely to happen in the near term as it would require a radical change to US policy. While President Biden has vowed to send troops to intervene if China attacks Taiwan, the official policy on how the US would react to a Chinese invasion is still ambiguous.
But the fact that the idea is being discussed will be viewed as a major provocation in Beijing. China has a no-first-use policy for its nuclear arsenal, but US policy leaves open the option to use nukes in response to a conventional attack.