Bangladesh, Russia sign nuclear power deal

Bangladesh and Russia are finalizing a deal on the first nuclear power plants in the energy-starved South Asian nation, an official said.

An official in the government’s Atomic Energy Commission told The Associated Press on Saturday that talks on nuclear cooperation were progressing.

“We will require signing a few more agreements with Russia to go for the final implementation,” he said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

He said under the agreement, the two countries would design, construct and operate nuclear power plants while Russia would train Bangladeshi officials and engineers. Transfer of technologies and maintenance of the plants are part of the agreement, he said.

The official said the agreements could be finalized when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visits Russia later this year.

The government in April approved a draft for the deal with Russia.

Bangladesh wants to set up a nuclear plant at Rooppur, 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of the capital, Dhaka, to meet its growing power need.

Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh say power shortages are hampering production in factories because gas-fired, decades-old power plants are failing to generate adequate electricity.

Bangladesh, a nation of 150 million people, has a daily shortfall of about 2,000 megawatts. The government says gas production has decreased in recent years.

The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank say Bangladesh’s economy, which has grown more than 5 percent in recent years, will suffer if more electricity is not generated to feed industries and support irrigation schemes.

The country also is looking at options to switch to coal-fired power plants. It has six coal fields with about 3.3 billion tons of estimated reserves.

Associated Press