Taiwan occupies a unique niche in the world community that necessitates enhanced participation in the global nonproliferation regime. It is one of the world’s key suppliers and consumers of high-tech, dual-use goods and technology. It has a reasonably-advanced nuclear energy program that further increases the flow of sensitive materials and technology. The island is located at the intersection of the world’s major sea-lanes, making it a major transit and transshipment hub. Most critically, there have been attempts (some of which succeeded) to smuggle WMD-sensitive goods out of Taiwan, as well as across its territory.
Despite the critical security concerns arising as a result of these factors, Taiwan is effectively a legal and political ‘black hole’ in the realm of international nonproliferation cooperation. This is due to its ‘non-state’ status, which prevents it from participating in multilateral nonproliferation treaties and export control regimes, and limits its access to information and intelligence sharing from national and international security agencies. In spite of these challenges, Taiwan demonstrates a relatively strong commitment to upholding the principles and objectives of the global nonproliferation regime. However, given the importance of the issue, the international community cannot afford to remain complacent in addressing a key question: how to ensure a sustainable commitment to nonproliferation by an “outsider” to the international system?