Nuclear Power Plants: Dhaka, Moscow agree to sign deal this month

Bangladesh and Russia yesterday agreed on their proposals for setting up nuclear power plants in Bangladesh and signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard at the end of this month.

“A draft proposal has been finalised on the basis of mutual understanding to sign the MoU…A Russian minister is expected to visit Dhaka at the end of this month to sign it,” MM Neazuddin, joint secretary to the Science and ICT ministry, said yesterday.

The draft was prepared following a three-day talk with a two-member Russian delegation on peaceful use of nuclear energy. Neazuddin led the Bangladesh side at the talks.

The visiting Russian delegation led by Vladimir Averkiev, head of international cooperation of Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation, briefed Bangladesh officials about Russia’s nuclear technology and ability to set up plants.

At the talks they expressed Russia’s keen interest in assisting Bangladesh in this regard while Bangladesh articulated its desire to set up two 1000MW power plants.

On the final day of the talks yesterday, the two sides were supposed to discuss the estimated cost of a power unit. However, the Russian team did not show any interest and said they would give an idea if the two sides reach a final decision.

An official of the science and ICT ministry meanwhile said, “Russia has set up nuclear plants in other countries from where we can have an idea about the costing.”

According to a paper prepared by the ministry, the estimated cost of a 1000MW nuclear power plant ranges between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. Experts say installation of such a unit will take at least five years since commissioning of the deal for the project.

The ministry official said they would analyse the outcome of the talks and prepare a proposal to submit to the higher authority soon. “The government, which assumed office with the promise to improve the volatile power situation, is willing to strike a deal with a country soon so that installation of the power unit can be started immediately,” he said.

Neazuddin was hopeful about completing necessary formalities for this by the end of this month. Experts say Bangladesh may need two more years to complete its preparation to improve the safety and environmental standards at the site.

Bangladesh has been negotiating with several countries for setting up nuclear power units. Recently, Dhaka sought assistance from South Korea in this regard. France and China have also shown interest in helping Bangladesh develop nuclear power plants while Bangladesh has bilateral agreements on nuclear cooperation with the United States, France and China.

The other member of the Russian delegation that arrived in Dhaka early last week was Nikolay Poznyakov, head of external affairs of Russian International Relations Department.

Acting Chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) Mohammad Liaquat Ali, its former chairman Shafiqul Islam, BAEC Director and Project Director Shawkat Akbar, and Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Director Rafiqul Islam were on the Bangladesh team.

Source: The Daily Star, 03 April 2009


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