Dhaka renews its quest for nuclear power


Dhaka : Bangladesh is to submit a fresh proposal to a visiting Russian delegation Thursday for setting up two 1,000 MW nuclear power plants, a newspaper said.

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Dhaka and Moscow hope to reach an understanding on this issue in the three-day talks with a two-member Russian delegation led by Vladimir Averkiev, head of international cooperation of Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation.

“We will discuss some important issues with the Russian delegation, including estimated cost of a nuclear power unit,” The Daily Star said, quoting M.M. Neazuddin, joint secretary in the ministry of science, information and communication technology.

Neazuddin is leading the Bangladesh side at the talks. Terming the talks as “very crucial”, he said that “everything would be settled within the next few days”.

With little hope of quick improvement in the existing severe power crisis, the government aims to sign primary agreements this month with Russia. Moscow has shown enthusiasm to help Dhaka with nuclear power technology.

France, China and South Korea have also shown interest in helping Bangladesh develop nuclear power plants. Bangladesh has bilateral agreements on nuclear cooperation with the US as well.

Bangladesh and Russia kicked off the talks on an agreement for constructing nuclear power plants and peaceful use of nuclear energy when the Russian team presented an overview of the Russian nuclear technology Tuesday, the newspaper said.

“We discussed the existing infrastructure, transmission capacity, manpower and possible sites for setting up nuclear power units,” said Neazuddin.

The ministry will prepare a report on the talks and submit it to the prime minister.

A memorandum of understanding might be signed between the two sides if the negotiation succeeds, paving the way for a final deal.

The Russian team includes Nikolay Poznyakov, head of external affairs of Russian International Relations Department, who visited the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission in Savar Wednesday afternoon.

Bangladesh has long been wanting to have a nuclear power plant at Rooppur in Pabna district, feasibility studies for which certified the project as technically and economically viable.

This was first begun in 1961 during the Pakistan era. After independence, India had shown interest in it.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) representatives, who visited the site in November 2008, also gave Bangladesh the go-ahead for the project.

The IAEA, which gave Bangladesh technical support, also suggested completing certain regulatory and safety tasks besides infrastructure development at Rooppur.