September 25, 2008

China Agrees to Help Bangladesh Set Up Nuclear Power Plant – Paper

Text of report headlined "China to help Bangladesh to set up Rooppur nuclear power plant" published by Bangladeshi newspaper New Age website on 25 September

Beijing has assured Dhaka of help in peaceful use of nuclear technology for the implementation of Rooppur nuclear power plant to meet the growing demand for energy.

Beijing positively responded to Dhaka's request as the interim government chief Fakhruddin Ahmed held meetings with the Chinese officials during his recent visit to China.

A Bangladesh official who accompanied Fakhruddin in China said Beijing has suggested that Dhaka should examine the nuclear power plant in Pakistan, set up with Chinese assistance. Once Bangladesh is impressed with the plant, Dhaka and Beijing can start negotiation to replicate the China-Pakistan model of nuclear power plant in Bangladesh.

Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain on Wednesday [24 September] told New Age that Fakhruddin had sought Chinese cooperation for nuclear power generation in the Rooppur plant during his official talks with his counterpart Wen Jiabao and the Chinese President Hu Jintao on 16 September in Beijing.

He said China's response was good to the Bangladesh proposal.

"The follow-up action to this end will soon be made," Touhid said.

The ministry officials said Bangladesh had so far approached Russia, Japan and South Korea in connection with the nuclear power plant, but were yet to get any positive response.

"Among the countries that we have approached for peaceful use of nuclear power for energy generation, Russia wants to provide technical support, Korea would like to provide a portion of amount for the project and Japan's response towards the nuclear power plant is very lukewarm as it does not provide support for such projects," said an official.

A document of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission said in view of the growing need for electricity against inadequate supply of local primary energy resources, the proposal for building a nuclear power project was first conceived in 1961 and the Rooppur site was selected in 1963 and 292 acres of land was acquired.

Since then a number of feasibility studies have been conducted each of which established the project was technically and economically feasible.

The latest feasibility study conducted in 1986-87 reconfirmed the earlier findings on technical, economic and financial viability of the nuclear project.

Officials in Dhaka claimed Fakhruddin's China visit had given a boost to the existing bilateral ties, forged 33 years ago, as leaders of the two countries agreed to focus on infrastructure development, and agricultural, scientific and technical cooperation apart from trade and economic ties.

The two sides signed three deals during the visit which included economic and technical cooperation for providing additional money to build the Bangladesh-China friendship exhibition centre, exchange of hydrological information on the River Brahmapurtra during flooding season and scientific and technical cooperation in the filed of agriculture to produce hybrid seeds.

China also assured Bangladesh of positively considering its proposal for the construction of the seventh and eighth Bangladesh- China friendship bridges over the Meghna and the Gumti to ease traffic congestion on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway.

Originally published by New Age website, Dhaka, in English 25 Sep 08.

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