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President wants priority for nuclear safety in cross-strait talks

2011/03/29 20:31:05

Taipei, March 29 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Tuesday thathe hopes nuclear safety will be top of the agenda in futurecross-Taiwan Strait negotiations.

The president noted that Taiwan has signed 15 agreements withChina in cross-strait talks over the past three years and is hopingto sign pacts on investment protection and dispute settlement thisyear.

"But we have also begun to look into the issue of cross-straitnuclear safety, as a result of the recent nuclear crisis in Japan, "he said.

The president was referring to the crippled Fukushima Daiichinuclear power plant in the northeastern part of Japan's main islandof Honshu in the wake of the March 11 massive earthquake and ensuingtsunami, which has caused global concern about radiation leaks.

He said Fukushima is more than 2,000 km from Taiwan, while Chinais at most 200 km away. If any accidents happen in Chinese nuclearplants, the damage could be many times greater than that inFukushima, he said.

Ma noted that there are six nuclear power plants with more than10 reactors in China across the strait from Taiwan, and that China isplanning to build 27 more such plants.

"We hope to cooperate with China on the prevention of possiblecalamities," the president said.

He made the remarks during a meeting with visiting former U.S.Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who is heading adelegation of security experts and think tank scholars.

Armitage, who served from 2001-2005 during the George W. Bushadministration, later met Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng fora lunch that was also attended by legislators Lin Yu-fang and LuHsueh-chang of the ruling Kuomintang.

According to Lin, Armitage said that achieving a nuclear-freehomeland will be easier said than done and that it would be strangeif on one hand, green energy is pursued while on the other, nuclearpower is scrapped. If nuclear power were to be scrapped, coal wouldhave to be used, which would make it difficult to reduce carbonemissions, Lin said.

Lu, meanwhile, cited Armitage as saying that making anuclear-free homeland would require comprehensive planning and wouldneed alternative energy sources such as bio-energy.

The idea of Taiwan as a nuclear-free homeland has become a topicfor debate after Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the oppositionDemocratic Progressive Party, recently said that if elected presidentin 2012, she will phase out the use of nuclear energy by 2025.

(By Justin Su and Lilian Wu)