Berlusconi talks up nuclear on Chernobyl anniversary
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday talked up nuclear power as the "safest" form of energy on the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl amid fears linked to the disaster in Japan.
"We are absolutely convinced that nuclear energy is the future for the whole world," Berlusconi said after a summit with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"Nuclear energy is still the safest," he told reporters.
His comments come after Italy announced a moratorium on its planned return to nuclear power following a long interruption after the Chernobyl meltdown.
The government last week scrapped legal norms on the construction of nuclear power stations planned by 2014, effectively suspending the programme.
Berlusconi said the move was carried out in order to avoid a referendum planned for June 12-13 that would have set Italy's nuclear programme back "several years" while public emotions were high in the wake of Japan.
"The government has put in place a moratorium in a responsible way in order to allow a new public opinion to form in a year or two that will see the necessity of returning to nuclear power," Berlusconi said.
Referring to nuclear agreements between Italian power giant Enel and France's EDF, Sarkozy said that Italy would have "a welcoming and friendly partner" in France when it decided to return to nuclear energy.
Italy abandoned nuclear power in 1987 after the Chernobyl disaster.
Berlusconi has promised to re-introduce nuclear power in order to cut power bills and reduce Italy's dependence on foreign energy imports.
© 2011 AFP