Saying no to nuclear power will not hurt Taiwan-US ties: MOFA

By Enru Lin ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, 外交部) yesterday rejected a claim that shutting down Nuke 4 could destabilize Taiwan’s relationship with the United States. The Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) maintains contracts with U.S. suppliers for necessities like uranium fuel rods, according to an unnamed source first cited by Chinese-language media The China Times. Due to the cash at stake, Taiwan-U.S. relations could suffer upon the shutdown of Nuke Four. This risk has made the central government reluctant to pull the plug, according to the report. At the Kuomintang (KMT) headquarters, Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) denied the claim. “So far I have not seen (a U.S. reaction,” said Lin, adding that he finds a future reaction unlikely. “In reality, the nuclear power plant issue is about cooperation on a commercial level,” Lin said. At the Legislative Yuan, Minister Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻) of the Atomic Energy Council (原能會) seconded Lin. “I don’t believe there would be great impact,” Tsai told reporters at the Legislature’s Education and Culture Committee (教育文化委員) yesterday. Tsai also downplayed Taipower’s fuel dependency on the U.S. During the initial stages of nuclear energy development, Taiwan had purchased the bulk of its uranium from the U.S. “But for a long time — some 10, 20 years now — we have been diversifying the sources,” he said.

The Only Way Meanwhile, President Ma Ying-jeou renewed his push for a national referendum on Nuke 4, calling it the only way to solve the public controversy. “An issue like pension reform can be legislated, but it’s very hard to use that strategy to solve the question of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant,” Ma told the KMT caucus at the Legislative Yuan. “Why? Because there are so many people who are concerned about the nuclear energy issue. Without a national referendum, the question would persist forever,” he continued. Ma also said that the Legislative Yuan is not constitutionally empowered to rule on Nuke 4. Earlier in March, KMT lawmakers including Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) and Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) proposed that the plant’s fate be decided by a legislative vote, rather than by a potentially polarizing public vote. That’s impossible, according to Ma. Article 57.2 of the constitution states that if the Legislative Yuan does not agree with a major Cabinet policy, it may approve a formal resolution to press the Executive Yuan for change. “However, amendments have since nullified the article,” said Ma. In late February, the Executive Yuan called for a national referendum on the fate of New Taipei City’s Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, a public construction project beset by costly delays. Construction at the site began in 1999. Since the announcement, the Democratic Progressive Party has urged Ma to order an immediate shutdown, while some in the KMT have proposed to handle the controversy with a legislative vote.