Taiwan and the 'Gold Standard'

Source: Getty
Op-Ed Arms Control Wonk
Summary
Taiwan's resolve not to enrich or reprocess has nothing to do with the "gold standard" and nearly everything to do with U.S. leverage over Taiwan's security arrangements.
Related Media and Tools
 

Taiwan's resolve not to enrich or reprocess has nothing to do with the A few people in Washington are pumping up the forthcoming renewal of the U.S. bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with Taiwan as an impending shot in the arm for the no-enrichment/no-reprocessing “gold standard” they want to see implemented by the U.S. in all future 123 agreements following the conclusion of the U.S.-UAE agreement in 2009.

Nowhere in the world does the U.S. government have as much leverage over a foreign country’s nuclear activities as it does in Taiwan. Taiwan therefore does not serve as a model for global application of the “gold standard” but that’s what pundits had to say in this piece which Elaine Grossman published a couple of days ago.  If the U.S.-Taiwan agreement isn’t renewed, it will expire in 2014. I’m highly confident however that it will be renewed, and that Taiwan will continue to embrace a policy of using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without enriching uranium or reprocessing its not-insignificant inventory of spent power reactor fuel.

But Taiwan’s resolve not to enrich or reprocess has nothing to do with the “gold standard” and nearly everything to do with U.S. leverage over Taiwan’s security arrangements (a somewhat watered-down argument might also be made for the UAE).

The bottom line is that any forthcoming decision by Taiwan and the U.S. to adopt the language of the UAE 123 agreement on reprocessing or enrichment in a new 123 agreement will more or less reiterate a very firm bilateral understanding reached long ago by Taiwan and the U.S. that Taiwan will not enrich uranium or reprocess spent fuel. For over 40 years, the U.S. has been rigorously enforcing that understanding.

Taiwan’s current 123 agreement–as the US government e-mail traffic referred to in Elaine’s article correctly suggests–does not categorically exclude reprocessing and enrichment by Taiwan. Since the 1970s, the U.S. has been party to a bilateral 123 agreement with Taiwan (which says the U.S. has prior consent rights over the “alteration” of nuclear material by Taiwan), to a trilateral safeguards agreement with Taiwan and the IAEA (Infcirc/158), and to a bilateral safeguards agreement. This 1980 U.S. government non-paper spells out that U.S. rights over Taiwan’s nuclear activities are indeed so extensive that the U.S. could instruct the German government that any nuclear items supplied to Taiwan by a German exporter would be subject to U.S. “control rights” which included U.S. “fallback safeguards rights” if deemed necessary. Beyond this, I’m told that there is a bilateral understanding–which may not be public–that enrichment and reprocessing by Taiwan are categorically off the table.

During the 1970s the U.S. confirmed that Taiwan had been involved on several occasions in undeclared and unreported nuclear R&D activities. Whenever that happened–the last case I know about was in the mid-1990s when Taiwan processed some uranium- and thorium-bearing sands–officials from U.S. DOE and State arrived quickly on the scene and were rubbernecking around installations on Taiwan, including locations which Taiwan never declared to the IAEA under Taiwan’s IAEA safeguards agreements.

Taiwan’s civilian nuclear program was launched decades ago by the KMT leadership under circumstances which, to put it mildly, didn’t exactly encourage political participation by Taiwan’s indigenous population. Since 2000, when the DPP won a national election and took power for the first time, the KMT’s legacy has threatened Taiwan’s nuclear power program and, in the wake of Fukushima, it might ultimately prove fatal to it. The DPP has adopted an antinuclear plank on its platform and since the accident in Japan DPP politicians have been fanning the flames. So it isn’t a surprise that right now Taiwan government officials want to quickly and without fanfare close on the terms of a new 123 agreement with the U.S. Given Taiwan’s historical dependence upon technology, equipment, and nuclear fuel from the U.S., the absense of a new bilateral agreement in 2014 would halt Taiwan’s nuclear program in its tracks.

Unlike in some other countries which are expanding their peaceful nuclear programs to include nuclear fuel processing (just think about Brazil, for example) in Taiwan the U.S. has lots of leverage over its nuclear program. All the power reactors on Taiwan are based on U.S. intellectual property. Taiwan’s nuclear regulatory agency is a virtual clone of the U.S. NRC. And Taiwan Power Co., which owns and operates all the power reactors on Taiwan, processes uranium fuel using U.S. vendors.

Above and beyond this looms the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act which is the bible for U.S. bilateral affairs with Taiwan. It says that the U.S. “will consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means…a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.” The TRA puts the U.S. military juggernaut front-and-center in defense of Taiwan, but it doesn’t reflexively imply that any specific threat to Taiwan would be interpreted by Washington as a casus belli. That important distinction increases still further Washington’s political leverage over Taiwan’s nuclear program. Would Taiwan put its security relationship with the U.S. at risk to enrich uranium, especially given that the Taiwan government after Fukushima proclaimed that nuclear power’s days on the island may be numbered? Don’t bet on it.

This article was originally published in Arms Control Wonk.

End of document

About the Nuclear Policy Program

The Carnegie Nuclear Policy Program is an internationally acclaimed source of expertise and policy thinking on nuclear industry, nonproliferation, security, and disarmament. Its multinational staff stays at the forefront of nuclear policy issues in the United States, Russia, China, Northeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East.

 

Comments

 
 
Source http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/07/23/taiwan-and-gold-standard/czys

In Fact

 

45%

of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.

30%

of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.

140

charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.

2.5–5

thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.

92%

of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.

$2.34

trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.

37%

of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.

72%

of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.

90%

of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.

13%

of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.

17

U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.

40%

of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.

120

million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.

60–70%

of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.

58%

of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.

67%

of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.

50%

of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.

18%

of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.

81%

of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.

32

million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3

Syrians

now needs urgent assistance.

370

political parties

contested India’s last national elections.

70%

of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.

70%

of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.

20%

of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.

58%

of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.

$536

billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.

$100

billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.

4700%

increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.

$11

billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.

2%

of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.

78

journalists

were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

Stay in the Know

Enter your email address to receive the latest Carnegie analysis in your inbox!

Personal Information
 
 
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
 
1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20036-2103 Phone: 202 483 7600 Fax: 202 483 1840
Please note...

You are leaving the website for the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy and entering a website for another of Carnegie's global centers.

请注意...

你将离开清华—卡内基中心网站,进入卡内基其他全球中心的网站。