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Dhaka wants clarity of India-Russia nuclear safety deal
Bangladesh is likely to seek clarity of the deal between India and Russia on nuclear safety cooperation referred in the proposed Memorandum of Understanding to be signed between Bangladesh, India and Russia on safety of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.
Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service known as Rostechnadzor of Russia, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of India and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority of Bangladesh would sign the memorandum.
Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority chairman Naiyyum Choudhury told BDchronicle on August 30 that the draft of the memorandum proposed by Russia and India was discussed at an inter-ministerial meeting on August 7.
The meeting, chaired by science and technology ministry secretary Md Anwar Hossain, proposed some changes to the draft which would be sent to Moscow and New Delhi soon, he said.
According to ministry officials, Bangladesh would seek a number of changes to the draft, including proper title of the nuclear safety deal between Russia and India and replacement of words ‘security regulation’ by ‘physical protection’ in the defining of areas of implementation.
Bangladesh would seek inclusion of a provision in the draft stating that the implementation of the memorandum would not affect commitments made in other agreements signed between the parties, they said.
At least half a dozen deals and memorandums have already been signed between Bangladesh, Russia and India on the construction of the power plant at Ishwardi at a cost of $12.65 billion with $11.385 billion Russian loan.
Russia’s state-run JSC Atomstroyexport would build and commission the power plant.
The proposed memorandum came into surface against the backdrop of widespread criticism about the safety of the nuclear power plant, now under construction, as the catastrophic nuclear accident in 1996 in Chernobyl created doubt about the Russian technology.
Dhaka has already engaged Rostechnadzor TSO JSC VO ‘Safety’, Russian state-owned company, to supervise the nuclear power plant project for radiation protection and the plant’s safety.
The Russian consultancy company will work for 11 years under an agreement. According to the agreement the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority will pay the company about Tk 1,300 crore in consultancy fees.
On August 31, 2017, Dhaka also signed a deal with Moscow for sending spent nuclear fuel to Russia from
the nuclear power plant with proper treatment procedure, a major safety concern that was overlooked in the construction deal of the plant.
Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, the local implementing agency of the project, is scheduled to take over the first unit of the plant in October 2023 and the second unit in October 2024.
Commission chairman Mahbubul Hoq said that the proposed memorandum aimed at tripartite cooperation between Bangladesh, India and Russia which was imperative for the operation of the country’s first nuclear power plant.
In the area of cooperation as illustrated in the Clause 2 of the memorandum, Bangladesh wanted to add ‘activities in the field of peaceful use of atomic energy’, said the ministry officials.
Bangladesh would also want to replace ‘no rights’ by ‘any rights’ and addition of ‘any national law’ in the clause dealing with the international implication of the memorandum.