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Fate of nuke plant unrelated to Taiwan-U.S. ties: Cabinet

2013/03/27 21:12:56

Taipei, March 27 (CNA) The Executive Yuan said Wednesday that the fate of the fourth nuclear power plant has nothing to do with the Taiwan-U.S. relations, rebutting media allegations.

The Executive Yuan said in a news release that the government's policy discussions related to the controversial plant is centered around nuclear power safety, a nuclear reduction plan and the nation's energy policy.

"Taiwan-U.S. relations have never been a key consideration in the policy," it said.

The Executive Yuan was responding to a local media report that the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou is unwilling to announce the scrapping of the under-construction nuclear plant in New Taipei, northern Taiwan, despite mounting opposition to it.

The China Times said the Ma administration on one hand is trying to avert a decision that could run counter to the Constitution, which states that the government has to carry out the project whose budget has been passed by the Legislature.

On the other hand, the key point is that the government will have to pay the United States tens of billions of dollars for uranium fuel rods, as well as other related fees, the reports said, adding that this will involve national strategy and military security, and will impact Taiwan-U.S. relations.

The Executive Yuan said that whether to scrap nuclear power as one of the nation's energy resources involves such factors as whether adequate electricity supplies can be ensured, whether electricity costs will rise, and whether it will impact the environment and affect climate change.

It also noted that that all countries facing energy resource problems will eventually have to face the same serious questions.

The press release said the newspaper reports that Taiwan pays the United States tens of billions of dollars for uranium fuel rods and consulting fees are "by no means true."

Currently, major contractors involved in the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant include construction and engineering consulting companies from the United States, Japan and Taiwan.

General Electric took part in the design and production of the reactors and provided consulting services. Taiwan pays consulting fees of around NT$1 billion (US$33.79 million) to the company every year.

Meanwhile, Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), which runs the nation's nuclear power plants, said the nuclear fuel for the three nuclear plants currently in operation average NT$7.1 billion a year. Of this figure, purchases from the U.S. amount to only around NT$2.2 billion, it said.

If the fourth nuclear power plant is put into operation, the annual purchase cost of the fuel rods will be around NT$1 billion, it added.

(By Hsieh Chia-chen, Lin Meng-ju and Lilian Wu)