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Lawmaker calls for Taiwan's IAEA participation

2011/03/31 14:26:11

Taipei, March 31 (CNA) A lawmaker called for Taiwan to join theinternational nuclear energy watchdog International Atomic EnergyAgency (IAEA) amid Japan's ongoing Fukushima nuclear power plantcrisis.

Taiwan should actively seek IAEA membership, or at leastincreased participation in the international body, because theFukushima crisis has highlighted the importance of nuclear safety,John Chiang, a ruling Kuomintang (KMT) legislator, said in a sessionof the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and National Defense Committee.

Taiwan has not been a member of the Austria-based organizationsince its seat in the United Nations (U.N.) was taken by the People'sRepublic of China in 1971.

"Taiwan's relations with the IAEA should be more than just aninspection destination for the regulatory body, " Chiang said.

As a non-member, Taiwan, which currently operates three nuclearpower plants, was not able to attend the IAEA General Assembly andhas also been kept out of its technical meetings, which has hurtTaiwan's ability to obtain information on atomic technology andnuclear safety cooperation, Chiang went on.

The legislator urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) toinclude the IAEA among its high priority targets for internationalparticipation, along with the International Civil AviationOrganization (ICAO) and the United Nations Framework Convention onClimate Change (UNFCCC).

Due to the potentially catastrophic impact of a nuclear crisis,China, which is on the IAEA's 35-member board, is not likely tooppose Taiwan's participation in the organization, Chiang said.

Taiwan has maintained regular contact with the IAEA, ForeignMinister Timothy C.T. Yang said, adding that there are staffers fromthe Atomic Energy Council posted in Taiwan's representative office inAustria as liaisons. Yang agreed to further review Chiang's proposal.

Taiwan signed an IAEA-ROC-USA "trilateral" safeguards agreementin Vienna in 1964 to transfer the responsibility of safeguardingnuclear materials from the United States to IAEA, according to theIAEA.

Taiwan has continued its role as a strong supporter of theNon-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) after its departure from U.N. and IAEAin 1971. In 1998, Taiwan further agreed to a Model Protocol foradditional safeguards.

The IAEA had 151 member states as of November 2010.

(By Chris Wang)