NSC denies US role in nuclear energy policy

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 - Page 3

The National Security Council (NSC) yesterday denied that it had discussed the recent dispute over the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) with the US, saying that nuclear power issues would not affect US-Taiwan relations.

“The government never discussed nuclear power plant issues with the US and did not receive any response from the US on the matter,” it said in a press release.

Amid mounting opposition to the power plant’s completion, the Chinese-language China Times yesterday said that while Taiwan imports most of its uranium from Australia, the uranium is sent to the US to be refined into fuel for the generation of nuclear power. The Taiwanese government pays billions to the US government every year for uranium refinement and for consultations about the power plant.

Citing anonymous sources from the council, the report said that the fuel refinement business with the US plays a role in the Taiwanese government’s nuclear power policy, such as its insistence on only gradually reducing the use of nuclear energy, or aversion to abruptly suspending construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, because a policy change could jeopardize bilateral relations.

The council yesterday said that Washington did not play any role in the government’s stance on nuclear power and said the story “blurred the focus of the nuclear power plant issue and misled public perceptions of the issue.”

Separately yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) reiterated the government’s plan to resolve the dispute over the Gongliao plant via a national referendum, adding that the Democratic Progressive Party’s proposal to put the suspension of the project to a legislative vote was a violation of the Constitution.

Ma said the policy on the construction of the nuclear power plant received support from the legislature, which made it a major national policy.

In addition, amendments to the Constitution have scrapped a previous article that gave the legislature the authority to ask the Executive Yuan to make changes to major policies.

“The Executive Yuan has the authority to propose and change major policies. Right now, the Executive Yuan’s attitude toward the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is quite clear, and that is to hold a referendum and let the public decide whether the policy should be changed,” he said.