Albania warming to nuclear power

MILAN – Albania wants to develop nuclear power generation and is ready to invite Italians to build a nuclear plant on its soil, Albania’s Prime Minister Sali Berisha told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. «Our country is open to atomic energy. It is open to everyone,» Berisha said in an interview published yesterday. Berisha said Albania was still working with the International Atomic Energy Agency on the necessary regulatory work to start nuclear power generation. «As soon as we are ready, it would be ideal to reach an agreement with neighboring countries, first of all with Italy,» Berisha said. Tirana would offer Italy a deal to build a nuclear plant in Albania financed by the two governments. If state funds were not to be available, Tirana would turn to private investors, he said. Berisha said his government has yet to contact Rome, but an Italian group which he did not name had already visited Albania to discuss building a nuclear plant there. The site is yet to be determined, he added. Italy is the only Group of Eight industrialized nation without nuclear power after rejecting it in a 1987 referendum in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster. But calls for a nuclear revival have intensified under the new government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as oil prices soared to record highs. «I have not yet talked to the Italian government, because the previous one was against nuclear power. But with Berlusconi everything changes,» Berisha said.