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North Korea to sue Taipower for NT$300 mil.

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- North Korea is poised to sue Taiwan Power Co. (台電) for damages of NT$300 million, over an alleged breach of a contract signed more than 16 years ago, according to lawyers working on Pyongyang's behalf.

Litigation will begin March 4, North Korea's legal counsel said.

In 1996, Taipower allegedly committed to a contract with North Korea in which nuclear waste from Taiwan would be shipped and stored in the isolated communist nation, according to reports.

However, the plans were halted due to North Korea's then-inadequate waste storage facilities and the sudden eruption of international uproar over the scheme, with Taiwan paying US$8.72 million to preserve a five-year option period in 1998, according to the lawyers, who added that North Korea continued to invest in its waste storage facilities under the assumption that the deal would be completed.

After over 10 rounds of negotiation over the past 15 years, North Korea is now accusing Taipower of complacency and negligence, citing a lack of communication and effort to fulfill the agreed-upon obligations.

In light of North Korea's unexpected litigation, Taipower has said that such a dated case needs a comprehensive internal review before a response can be formulated.

The lawsuit marks a surprising development in the ongoing row over the proposed plan to construct a fourth nuclear power plant in Taiwan, as the ruling and opposition parties wrestle over the terms of the proposed referendum, which would decide the fate of the plant.

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