Russia and Bangladesh have signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in nuclear energy in advance of an intergovernmental agreement. Meanwhile, uranium collaborations have featured in Russian-Mongolian intergovernmental negotiations.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in Dhaka by Rosatom deputy director general Nikolay Spassky and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) chairman Shafiqul Islam Bhuiyan is a precursor to an intergovernmental agreement which, according to Rosatom, may be signed by the end of the year.
Bangladesh first started looking into building a nuclear power plant in the early 1960s and a site at Rooppur in Pabna district was selected in 1963. Although a proposal for a 125 MWe nuclear power plant received government approval in 1980, the plant was never built. However, with growing demand and grid capacity, the country's government revived plans to build at Rooppur, adopting a national Nuclear Power Action Plan in 2001. Over recent years it has signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with China, as well as continuing discussions with Russia and China.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has approved a Technical Assistance Project for Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant to be initiated between 2009 and 2011, and it now appears that a 600 MWe plant is envisaged. Government plans foresee an operating plant at Rooppur by 2017.
Early start for Mongolian projects?
While Rosatom's deputy director general was busy in Dhaka, Russian-Mongolian intergovernmental discussions were under way in Ulaanbataar. According to press reports, Mongolian prime minister Sanj Bayaar took the opportunity of the talks to suggest accelerating a project to set up a joint uranium mining venture with Russia. Speaking at a press conference during the talks, Russian energy minister Sergei Schmatko said that documents for the joint development of Mongolian uranium deposits were ready for signing.
Rosatom and the Mongolian Agency for Atomic Energy signed a memorandum of understanding on training of nuclear specialists during the intergovernmental talks. Russia and Mongolia signed a high-level agreement to cooperate on identifying and developing Mongolia's uranium resources in April 2008, with Russia also examining the feasibility of building nuclear power plants in Mongolia.