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Taiwan: Two sides to the nuclear coin

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(February 16, 2001) The decision to cancel Taiwan's Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project (Lungmen) has been reversed as part of an agreement between the Premier Chang Chung-hsiung and Legislative Speaker Wan Jin-pyng. However, the same agreement also states that the ultimate goal is a nuclear-free Taiwan.

(543.5245) WISE Amsterdam - This agreement, signed on 13 February 2001, is the latest attempt to mend the major political crisis in Taiwan. The question as to whether the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (Lungmen) should be completed has caused a major political crisis between the Democratic People's Party (DPP) government, elected in March 2000, and the nationalist party KuoMinTang (KMT), which had been in power for the previous 50 years.

Undisclosed nuclear research in Taiwan
It was revealed in Nucleonics Week that IAEA safeguards inspectors discovered in the mid-1990s that Taiwan continued to carry out undisclosed nuclear research in breach of its IAEA safeguards agreement. It was alleged that Taiwan was investigating a fuel cycle in which thorium-232 is irradiated to produce fissile uranium-233. The US Government has custodial responsibility for enforcing Taiwan's IAEA safeguards, but the US does not appear to have taken formal action against Taiwan in this matter.
Nucleonics Week, 15 February 2001

The crisis has already cost the job of the previous Premier, Tang Fei (see WISE News Communique 535.5204: "Taiwan: Committee votes to stop construction of Lungmen, premier resigns"). The new Premier, Chang Chung-hsiung, announced on 27 October 2000 that Lungmen will be cancelled, pledging at the same time to make Taiwan nuclear free (see WISE News Communique 538.5217: "Taiwan: Lungmen cancellation announced, political row continues").

In the latest agreement, construction of Lungmen is to be reinstated, but the aim to make Taiwan a nuclear-free country has for the first time been accepted by the KMT. The agreement also says that the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) will submit a relevant (i.e. nuclear) energy bill to the Legislature, which must be agreed by all parties. Finally, the opposition parties agree to resume dialogue with the ruling party once the construction of Lungmen re-starts.

Premier Chang said that that the decision to resume the Lungmen project was a "bitter" but "unavoidable" decision. He suggested that there were more battles to come, but "stability" right now was the paramount concern.

Protests against Lungmen continue. Two protestors set themselves on fire, one in Tainan on 28 January and one outside the legislature building in Taipei on 29 January, in protest against the developments. Another large demonstration is planned for 24 February.


  • Taiwan News, 14 February 2001
  • Nucleonics Week, 15 February 2001
  • emails from Gloria Kuang-Jung Hsu and others, 14 February 2001
  • Taipei Times, 30 January 2001

Contact: Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU), 2nd Fl., 107, section 3, Ting-Chou Road, Taipei, Taiwan,
tel: +886 2 2367 8335 or 2363 6419, fax: +886 2 2364 4293