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Experts comment on nuclear cooperation between Russia, India, Bangladesh

Experts believe the trilateral memorandum on cooperation on the Rooppur nuclear power plant project, signed by Russia, Bangladesh and India, will benefit the three countries

NEW DELHI, March 2. /TASS/. The trilateral memorandum of understanding on cooperation in implementing the Rooppur nuclear power plant (RNPP) project, signed by Russia, Bangladesh and India, will benefit all the three countries, Indian and Bangladeshi experts told TASS.

"The RNPP is going to contribute hugely to meet the country’s power demand. Nuclear power is a very sensitive subject. Russia and India both are experienced in this arena," General Secretary of the Bangladesh Physics Society Dr. Ishtiaque Maoyeen Syed said. "Our students have the academic knowledge but they do not have practical experience. So we may train them in India or Russia under this agreement," he noted, adding that "some of our students have gone to Russia for higher studies in nuclear technology."

Experts believe that the document signed in Moscow will boost technology cooperation between the three countries.

"We still have a long way to go with nuclear technology," former Chairman of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission Mohammad Ali Zulquarnain said. "Our neighbor India is more advanced than us in this regard. Some of the Indian nuclear power plants are built by Russia and the two countries share a good working relation in this regard. Bangladesh can also enter cooperation with the two countries and gain from their experiences," he noted.

"Developing skilled manpower and exchange experiences under the agreement will be a fair trade for Bangladesh," Chairman of the Nuclear Engineering Department at the University of Dhaka Shafiqul Islam pointed out. "Bangladesh can surely learn from the experiences of both India and Russia," he said, adding that Bangladesh should use industry-trusted Russian equipment.

"Given India’s relationship with Bangladesh, we already have power-sector relationship, this (nuclear cooperation) I would say is only natural and beneficial to both the countries," India Energy Forum President and former Power Secretary at the Indian government Anil Razdan said. "We could probably be offering them technical support, training people and… organize construction activity because we have already constructed a few reactors of the same breed… and all this would go a long way in benefiting Bangladesh," he added.

Landmark industry event

On March 1, Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, the Ministry of Science and Technology of Bangladesh and the Indian government’s Department of Atomic Energy signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in implementing the Rooppur nuclear power plant project in Bangladesh.

The document will provide Indian companies with an opportunity to participate in the project that Russia has been working on.

"Today sees a landmark event for our countries and the industry on the whole. We are confident that it is the first step towards forming a new regional cooperation agenda," Rosatom said in a statement, citing the corporation’s Deputy Director General for International Relations Nikolai Spassky. "Rosatom is a global company and a world leader in the peaceful use of atomic energy. We are open for cooperation within the existing projects. The signing of the memorandum is just another proof of that," the statement adds.

The memorandum sets a framework for interaction between the Russian contractor, Indian and Bangladeshi experts. The scope of work includes the design, production and supply of equipment, construction, installation and commissioning. The parties, in particular, will cooperate in personnel training. Indian companies may be involved in construction and installation activities.

Rooppur NPP project

Rosatom signed an EPC contract for the first NPP in Bangladesh in mid-December 2015. The nuclear power plant will be located on the eastern bank of the Ganges River, 160 kilometers from the Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka. Two units of the plant, with a capacity of 1,200 MW each, are planned to be put into operation in 2022 and 2023.

In early 2017, Russia’s government extended an $11.38 billion loan to Bangladesh to build the Rooppur NPP. The loan will be used from 2017 to 2024. Earlier reports said that Bangladesh would repay the actually spent loan in equal six-month installments over a twenty-year period.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier told TASS that Russia’s support had allowed her country to fulfill its long-held dream of constructing the first nuclear power plant. According to Sheikh Hasina, the Rooppur NPP is very important for Bangladesh as the country’s government seeks to provide electricity to every household.