Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Bangladesh signed on Wednesday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Russia aiming to boost bilateral cooperation for setting up its first nuclear power plant.

The MoU, signed between the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) and the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation – Rosatom – creates a formal mechanism to initiate talks for peaceful use nuclear technology and subsequently installation of a nuclear power plant.

NN Spasskiy, Deputy Director General of Rosatom, who signed the agreement on Russian part, said, “This agreement will enable us to provide avenue for cooperation in peaceful use of nuclear energy. But one thing is in our mind to design and build Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant.”

Spasskiy is leading a 5-member Russian delegation, who arrived on Tuesday.

BAEC acting chairman Mosharraf Hossain signed the MoU on behalf of his organization while Science and ICT Secretary Nazmul Huda Khan was present at the function in the conference room of the ICT Ministry. Russian ambassador GP Trotsenko was also present on the occasion.

“This is a great moment for us. Through the signing of this agreement, we are moving forward to implement our election commitment to build up a nuclear power project in Rooppur,” said State Minister for Science and ICT Architect Yeafesh Osman.

Yeafes also said Bangladesh has earlier signed similar agreements with the USA and China as well. “We will seek proposals from other countries and finally accept that proposal which will be most competitive for Bangladesh.”

He said that it might take 4-5 years to implement the planned 600-1000-MW nuclear power plant. The cost of the plant might be $1.5-2 billion.

The head of Russian delegates said Russia is confident that its proposal will be “quite competitive” and its technology is “best in the world”.

Prime Minister’s energy Advisor Dr Taufiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury Birbikram said the initial cost involvement in the nuclear power is high, but its production cost is cheaper.

Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had approved a draft proposal, prepared by the ministry, which explains how Bangladesh and Russia can cooperate with each other in peaceful use of nuclear energy.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-14May09-12:06 am (BST)