Russia is to build Bangladesh's first nuclear power plant at Rooppur under an intergovernmental cooperation agreement signed in Dhaka on November 2. The agreement was signed by Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, and Yafesh Osman, Bangladesh's minister of state for science, information and communication technologies. Rooppur is designated as the location for a nuclear reactor since 1963.
The signing ceremony was attended by dignitaries including Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina. Under the agreement, Russia will construct two 1000 MWe reactors at Rooppur, in Pabna district, about 200 km from the capital, Dhaka. It specifies that Rosatom's AtomStroyExport division will act as the contractor, while the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission will be the customer. Russia will also support Bangladesh in developing the necessary infrastructure for the proposed plant. The agreement calls for Russia to provide fuel for the plant on a long-term basis, as well as taking back the used fuel for long-term management and permanent disposal. Russia will also train workers to operate the plant. A separate agreement will be signed for Russia to provide the necessary financing for the Rooppur plant’s construction. The Government of Bangladesh is considering either a Government-owned turnkey project or a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) contract.
Kiriyenko said that the proposed reactors "will meet all the international post-Fukushima requirements." He noted that the plant will feature double containment, a passive heat removal system, hydrogen recombiners, a core catcher, as well as other safety features. According to a Reuters report, Osman said that construction of the reactors at Rooppur would begin by 2013 and will take five years to complete.
Russia, China and South Korea had earlier offered financial and technical help to establish nuclear power in Bangladesh. In March 2009, Russia made a formal proposal to construct a nuclear power plant in the country. The Bangladeshi government approved this proposal the following month. The latest agreement between the two countries follows the signing of an intergovernmental agreement in May 2010 on cooperation in the field of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. That agreement provided a legal framework for cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.
Plans to built a nuclear reactor at Rooppur were first drawn up in 1963 and after Bangladesh became independent from Pakistan after a war in December 1971 the plans were revived and an Atomic Energy Commission was set up. In April 1974 it signed a deal with India for information exchange about the "peaceful uses of nuclear energy" (less than a month later, on May 18, India exploded its first nuclear device code named Operation Smiling Buddha). On August 29, 1980, the government singed an agreement with France to provide technological and financial aid for the construction of a 300 MW nuclear power plant. The Saudi Arabia agreed to provide two-thirds of the finance, but Bangladesh was unable to find the rest of the money. In September 1981 it signed an Agreement for Coorperation Concerning the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy with the US and in December 1984 Russia offered to finance and supply a 440 MW reactor, supply and take back the fuel for an estimated price fo US$600 million. But again it did not materialize.
Then, in September 2007 after announcing the construction of 2 reactors in Rooppur for the xth-time, Bangladesh asked the IAEA for 'technical assistance and support'. Russia won a state-to-state-deal for ten construction. In a November 21 2011 report, the IAEA announced Bangladesh has "achieved notable progress in its nuclear infrastructure development of nuclear power". An Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission concluded that Bangladesh has "mostly met the conditions for knowledgeable decision-making and is actively preparing for the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant project."
Sources: New Scientist, 13 December 1984 / Financial Express (Bangladesh), 3 February 2010 / World Nuclear News, 2 November 2011 / IAEA, November 21 2011 / Laka files on Bangladesh