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September 22, 2017

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Halt to Nuke 4 does not mean termination: Jiang

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday elaborated on the two points of consensus made on Sunday by Kuomintang (KMT) officials regarding the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (Nuke 4), saying that to halt construction on the plant does not mean to completely terminate the project.

The Ma administration, the KMT caucus and ruling party mayors and magistrates on Sunday reached a consensus on two points. The first, that construction of the plant's nearly completed No. 1 and No. 2 reactors is to be halted with immediate effect, and secondly that the No. 1 reactor, which is currently undergoing safety inspections, will not be activated when the inspections have been completed.

In response to anti-nuclear protesters' demand for a clearer explanation on the agreements, the premier yesterday morning held a press conference at the Executive Yuan.

Jiang said the government did not make any major changes to its energy policy, adding that the government is being responsible by completing the safety inspections on the No. 1 reactor and by halting construction of the nearly completed No. 2 reactor.

The premier commented on former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung's (林義雄) hunger strike, saying that Lin's demand for the government to immediately terminate Nuke 4 is a rather difficult feat to achieve.

Jiang went on to say that he knows the anti-nuclear power protesters wish to abolish Nuke 4 once and for all, adding that without Nuke 1, 2 and 3 in operation, the impact would be too great to Taiwan's electricity supply.

The premier said that before the highest expression of the people's will is carried out via referendum, the executive branch hopes future generations will be allowed to decide Nuke 4's fate, therefore "mothballing" Nuke 4 with immediate effect may be the best course of action.

Jiang at the same time denied speculation that the administration is requesting another NT$40 billion to complete the project so it can pass a safety inspection.

"No additional funds will be requested (by the administration)," he added.

Premier on Japan's Energy Policy

The premier also commented on Japan's latest energy policy, saying that despite public concerns following the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese government has approved an energy plan that would reactivate the country's nuclear power reactors.

Jiang further said that over the past three years, Japan has tried its best to conserve energy and supply electricity through other energy sources; however, after years of trying, it is being forced to restart some of the reactors to support national power needs.

The premier urged the public to think about the meaning behind the Japanese government's decision and consider how long people can endure expensive electricity prices and energy conservation policies without nuclear energy.

Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said that once nuclear energy is phased out, the country will need massive quantities of natural gas to generate electricity. He further said that as there is no facility to receive natural gas in Northern Taiwan, it will take at least eight to 10 years to build such facilities and power plants.

He went on to echo Jiang's argument, saying that over the past three years, Japan has spent more than 21 trillion yen to import natural gas, which has played a significant role in increasing its trade deficit. Chang said it is not hard to calculate the potential cost of importing fuel and the impact this decision this would have on the nation's economy.

Economics Vice Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun (杜紫軍) said that the specific details and cost for "mothballing" Nuke 4 will come out before the end of June along with the completion of the power plant's safety inspection.

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