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Analysis

South Korea to press on with pro-nuclear move

Korea to continue to go nuclear-free despite Taiwan’s pro-nuclear move.


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Updated: November 27, 2018

Korea will maintain its stance on its anti-nuclear policy in the wake of heated debate over Taiwan’s latest referendum that voted in favor of repealing the nuclear phase-out, according to a senior government official of the Energy Ministry on Monday.

“Taiwanese seemed to decide to abandon its anti-nuclear policy in the wake of a massive blackout in August last year. Although our policy direction is somewhat similar to Taiwan, there are also differences,” a senior official of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, who asked for anonymity, told reporters Monday.

“Although we will refer to the case of Taiwan, we will (still) push for our energy shift policies by strengthening communication with the public,” he said.

Taiwan — alongside Germany — is one of the countries that the Moon Jae-in administration benchmarked for the nation’s nuclear-free policies. However, as the massive blackout last year caused growing anxiety among Taiwanese over power supply issues, the nation held a referendum Saturday to decide on the fate of the energy source.

As a result, 5,895,560 votes were cast in favor of repealing the nuclear phase-out, accounting for 59 percent of total votes, according to Taiwan’s Central Election Commission on Sunday.

The Korean Energy Ministry said it does not seem appropriate to apply the case of Taiwan directly to Korea.

Korea has enough nuclear power plants to supply power in the long term, therefore it has more room for a stable phase-out, the senior official said.

There are currently 24 nuclear power plants in Korea, with six of them being under inspection. Five new plants are being constructed. In Taiwan, there are two nuclear power plants running.

Korea aims to completely phase out the nation’s nuclear power plants by 2082 as part of the nation’s nuclear-free plan to raise the portion of renewable energy and lower the portion of nuclear energy. Therefore, the operation of all the nuclear power plants will not be extended when the operation period is over.

The senior official also said, “We have no plan to have a joint survey to ask the public about the government’s energy shift policies (with the Korean Nuclear Society).”

“Decision making based on a survey may be right, but it doesn’t seem right for the energy shift policies,” he said.

Last week, the Korean Nuclear Society proposed the government conduct a joint survey over its policies after the government raised doubts over the credibility of the association’s latest survey result. The survey done by the association showed 68 percent of the public are in favor of either maintenance or expansion of nuclear power plants.

This is in contrast to another survey released in June by the privately run Hyundai Research Institute that showed 84.6 percent of respondents approved of the government’s policy to reduce nuclear power plants.



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The Korea Herald
About the Author: The Korea Herald is the nation’s largest English-language daily and the country’s sole member of the Asia News Network.

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