Among others countries like Japan, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Taiwan can leverage their civilian nuclear programmes to quickly assemble a nuclear weapon, making them ‘virtual’ nuclear states. Referring to a New York Times article, ParaPundit suggests that Taiwan could be the first ‘virtual’ nuclear state to cross the Rubicon. The balance of conventional forces is still in Taiwan’s favour, but the Mainland is fast beefing up its strike capability, investing in both enhanced air and naval power.
The good news is that it will take a decisive and overwhelming shift in the balance of conventional forces for Taiwan to take the extreme measure of weaponising its nuclear capability. The bad news is that China’s booming economic growth can bring this shift about much more rapidly than was earlier imagined.