Turkey’s energy minister warned that the country cannot afford to postpone a decision on bids to build the country’s first nuclear power plant, Reuters reports. Failure, the minister said, would damage confidence in Turkey.

Tenders for construction of the facility at Akkuyu on the southern coast were collected in late 1997. The option period for the participating companies expires on 15 October.

This is the third time Turkey has sought bids for construction of a nuclear power station. A third failure to proceed would send a strong signal to the international community, the energy minister predicted. Turkey now has a strong government, following recent elections, and should be in a position to make a decision.

The Akkuyu project was intended to be built as a turnkey project, due for completion in 2006.

Three consortia bid for the project. They were led by Westinghouse, AECL and Nuclear Power International.