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Safe options instead of the dangerous Russian U236 fueled atomic power plant!

Engr. S. A. Mansoor

Nuclear power generation fueled by U-236, is a dangerous and risky operation; more so for a technically underdeveloped country like Bangladesh! In reality; the risks are extremely dangerous; and long term! The related medical problems of U236 radiation related medical dangers; will very very badly effect the nation; both health-wise and cost-wise for many decades! We are going now to set up and install a Russian supplied U236 fueled extremely dangerous nuclear power plant! Frankly; it is not needed! Further more, on nuclear plant operation Russia’s record on safety is the WORST! It is a very restricted and censored news in Russia! All reports on the operation of these plants are totally censored before it is publicly released; and very little about any accidents or any radiation leakage is known across the world!
Compared to the ever-present potential danger of spreading radiation sickness; across the country the more vital issue of disposal of radiation-dangerous plant wastes; and used furnace fuel rods have not been considering the high degree of isolation and safety,that is involved for nuclear plant operation! Over and above; the language of technical knowledge exchange leaves very much to be desired! It appears that Russian language will be the working language! In contrast; even English language for our proposed nuclear plant personnel is difficult, because of our usually overall poor knowledge of English language! As far as this writer feels; we are heading very blindly, on a critically detailed and dangerous operating and safety issues! Also our total overall knowledge of “nuclear safety” is a big ZERO! We are possibly unaware of the complex and potential hazards in the operating of U236 fueled Nuclear power plant and the handling and disposal of nuclear contaminated wastes including spent electrodes! All these need absolutely safe and strictly safe methods for the handling and disposal of spent fuel and electrodes of the nuclear reactor! This subject is the most critical part of a nuclear plant operation; where no oversight in operation procedures can be tolerated!
In contrast, the operation and safety; particularly radiation-wise; by using ‘Thorium’ and not ‘Uranium’ as reactor fuel that we are getting from the Russians; would be absolutely safe! In contrast to Uranium; Thorium is totally safe from radiation sickness and all other Cancer related diseases; coming fr0m U36; that we will be using in our atomic power plant! This potentially dangerous risk of contamination is always there;, when using U236 as the ‘Reactor Fuel’! This very essential and critical matter related to radiation leakage dangers; and the risks involved in handing nuclear waste are not there with U238! This very, very important fact in Bangladesh context; cannot be just ‘wished away’! This writer now 85; will not be there, when this might happen! However; our future generation will have to face the real and dangerous issue of any fatal radiation leakage based sickness; in the future decade! Yet we are all set for installing a potentially fatal radiation source of power generation fuel in Bangladesh; and that too at a prohibitive cost!
In the western world (particularly in USA, Germany and in some other countries; Thorium, which was ignored earlier; is now rapidly coming up as a safe fuel for nuclear power plants! Furthre, attention is being given to the use of Uranium 235 or Plutonium 239; as fuel for conventional nuclear power generation; that has now taken priority! In Western countries, more emphasis is now centered towards moving away from Uranium 236, as a fuel for power generation! Gradually older U236 fueled; power plants are being modified accordingly; to ensure maximum radiation safety; by going over to Thorium or U238 as the reactor fuel! With the lesser possibilities of any ‘nuclear war’ now; attention is focusing towards these radiation free potential source for generating electricity, coming from these safer nuclear fuels! This is how the use of Thorium has come up; and it is now the present fuel choice; given to these radiation safe options for atomic power plants!
Isotopes of Thorium (T-2320 is being studied, as a potentially feasible radiation safe fuel for electric power generation; in the days ahead! Work has now started, for the setting up of power plants having functional Thorium reactors! China expects to develop such a nuclear power reactor, working within the next ten years! Meanwhile; Norway also is now developing a Thorium fueled nuclear power reactor; which is undergoing tests; and it may in on operation in the next few years! It is now in development stages; and hopefully in the next 5 to 8 years; radiation safe nuclear power plants could be be in the market!
In contrast; Bangladesh has dangerously gone to Russia nu-necessarily gone for a very expensive conventional nuclear power plant; using the dangerous and potentially fatal U236 as nuclear fuel! Factually; Russia, has the world’s worst safety record in nuclear power generation! Most of their nuclear power plant records are “state secrets”; to keep the news from getting world wide attention! The Chernobyl plant’s very dangerous and serious accident just could not be physically hidden away; hence it became world news! However we are still not aware of the total non-plant based radiation fatalities and causalities; or the number of people seriously effected and who subsequently died and are still suffering from the horrifying Chernobyl disaster related cancers! All these information are “state secrets” in Russia; and we are totally unaware about it!
In this writer’s humble and realistic views; we have gone for the worst and ‘THE’ most expensive route for a nuclear fueled power plant! There is now every potential possibility of introducing mass radiation sickness, in Bangladesh! There are many safer nuclear based options; like U238 among others; that are operating in other countries; including USA! By any yardstick; the proposed Russian nuclear plant is a nationally UNSAFE, DANGEROUS and WRONG and a potentially catastrophic decision; that too at a very high price! This U236 plant will be by having the highest cost of generating electric power per KwH in Bangladesh; for the next many decades! It would be far cheaper to go for long-term import of power from India on a commercial basis than to go for this potentially hazardous and catastrophic Russian nuclear power plant!

(Note: This write-up is based on news-reports, and technical opinions from many web sites! For Bangladesh Thorium. as nuclear fuel should be the radiation-free and by far the cheaper nuclear power generation option! This writer feels that the Russian Nuclear Power Plant, that we are going for; will not only be VERY COSTLY ; but a long term persisting mega-radiation hazard! We are unnecessarily wasting used foreign exchange! Epidemic of nuclear related cancers and other fatal diseases will continue for decades as the source will be radiation related cancer! Writer now 85, is retired Engineer with over four decades of hands-on engineering expertise; including installation commissioning and operation of many public and private industries captive thermal power plants; fueled by liquid, solid or gaseous fuels; having up-to 1.2 MW maximum single unit size; both for normal operation, or as stand-by power source!

Comment

Engr. S. A. Mansoor

Nuclear power generation fueled by U-236, is a dangerous and risky operation; more so for a technically underdeveloped country like Bangladesh! In reality; the risks are extremely dangerous; and long term! The related medical problems of U236 radiation related medical dangers; will very very badly effect the nation; both health-wise and cost-wise for many decades! We are going now to set up and install a Russian supplied U236 fueled extremely dangerous nuclear power plant! Frankly; it is not needed! Further more, on nuclear plant operation Russia’s record on safety is the WORST! It is a very restricted and censored news in Russia! All reports on the operation of these plants are totally censored before it is publicly released; and very little about any accidents or any radiation leakage is known across the world!
Compared to the ever-present potential danger of spreading radiation sickness; across the country the more vital issue of disposal of radiation-dangerous plant wastes; and used furnace fuel rods have not been considering the high degree of isolation and safety,that is involved for nuclear plant operation! Over and above; the language of technical knowledge exchange leaves very much to be desired! It appears that Russian language will be the working language! In contrast; even English language for our proposed nuclear plant personnel is difficult, because of our usually overall poor knowledge of English language! As far as this writer feels; we are heading very blindly, on a critically detailed and dangerous operating and safety issues! Also our total overall knowledge of “nuclear safety” is a big ZERO! We are possibly unaware of the complex and potential hazards in the operating of U236 fueled Nuclear power plant and the handling and disposal of nuclear contaminated wastes including spent electrodes! All these need absolutely safe and strictly safe methods for the handling and disposal of spent fuel and electrodes of the nuclear reactor! This subject is the most critical part of a nuclear plant operation; where no oversight in operation procedures can be tolerated!
In contrast, the operation and safety; particularly radiation-wise; by using ‘Thorium’ and not ‘Uranium’ as reactor fuel that we are getting from the Russians; would be absolutely safe! In contrast to Uranium; Thorium is totally safe from radiation sickness and all other Cancer related diseases; coming fr0m U36; that we will be using in our atomic power plant! This potentially dangerous risk of contamination is always there;, when using U236 as the ‘Reactor Fuel’! This very essential and critical matter related to radiation leakage dangers; and the risks involved in handing nuclear waste are not there with U238! This very, very important fact in Bangladesh context; cannot be just ‘wished away’! This writer now 85; will not be there, when this might happen! However; our future generation will have to face the real and dangerous issue of any fatal radiation leakage based sickness; in the future decade! Yet we are all set for installing a potentially fatal radiation source of power generation fuel in Bangladesh; and that too at a prohibitive cost!
In the western world (particularly in USA, Germany and in some other countries; Thorium, which was ignored earlier; is now rapidly coming up as a safe fuel for nuclear power plants! Furthre, attention is being given to the use of Uranium 235 or Plutonium 239; as fuel for conventional nuclear power generation; that has now taken priority! In Western countries, more emphasis is now centered towards moving away from Uranium 236, as a fuel for power generation! Gradually older U236 fueled; power plants are being modified accordingly; to ensure maximum radiation safety; by going over to Thorium or U238 as the reactor fuel! With the lesser possibilities of any ‘nuclear war’ now; attention is focusing towards these radiation free potential source for generating electricity, coming from these safer nuclear fuels! This is how the use of Thorium has come up; and it is now the present fuel choice; given to these radiation safe options for atomic power plants!
Isotopes of Thorium (T-2320 is being studied, as a potentially feasible radiation safe fuel for electric power generation; in the days ahead! Work has now started, for the setting up of power plants having functional Thorium reactors! China expects to develop such a nuclear power reactor, working within the next ten years! Meanwhile; Norway also is now developing a Thorium fueled nuclear power reactor; which is undergoing tests; and it may in on operation in the next few years! It is now in development stages; and hopefully in the next 5 to 8 years; radiation safe nuclear power plants could be be in the market!
In contrast; Bangladesh has dangerously gone to Russia nu-necessarily gone for a very expensive conventional nuclear power plant; using the dangerous and potentially fatal U236 as nuclear fuel! Factually; Russia, has the world’s worst safety record in nuclear power generation! Most of their nuclear power plant records are “state secrets”; to keep the news from getting world wide attention! The Chernobyl plant’s very dangerous and serious accident just could not be physically hidden away; hence it became world news! However we are still not aware of the total non-plant based radiation fatalities and causalities; or the number of people seriously effected and who subsequently died and are still suffering from the horrifying Chernobyl disaster related cancers! All these information are “state secrets” in Russia; and we are totally unaware about it!
In this writer’s humble and realistic views; we have gone for the worst and ‘THE’ most expensive route for a nuclear fueled power plant! There is now every potential possibility of introducing mass radiation sickness, in Bangladesh! There are many safer nuclear based options; like U238 among others; that are operating in other countries; including USA! By any yardstick; the proposed Russian nuclear plant is a nationally UNSAFE, DANGEROUS and WRONG and a potentially catastrophic decision; that too at a very high price! This U236 plant will be by having the highest cost of generating electric power per KwH in Bangladesh; for the next many decades! It would be far cheaper to go for long-term import of power from India on a commercial basis than to go for this potentially hazardous and catastrophic Russian nuclear power plant!

(Note: This write-up is based on news-reports, and technical opinions from many web sites! For Bangladesh Thorium. as nuclear fuel should be the radiation-free and by far the cheaper nuclear power generation option! This writer feels that the Russian Nuclear Power Plant, that we are going for; will not only be VERY COSTLY ; but a long term persisting mega-radiation hazard! We are unnecessarily wasting used foreign exchange! Epidemic of nuclear related cancers and other fatal diseases will continue for decades as the source will be radiation related cancer! Writer now 85, is retired Engineer with over four decades of hands-on engineering expertise; including installation commissioning and operation of many public and private industries captive thermal power plants; fueled by liquid, solid or gaseous fuels; having up-to 1.2 MW maximum single unit size; both for normal operation, or as stand-by power source!


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Internet gag in Kashmir

Abid Ahmad Shah

The world of today is altogether in contradiction to the times of the previous ages. Technology has taken the global order by a major revolutionary storm and made the world a knowledge driven global network. Internet forms the mainstay of the current times and is in fact a boon companion of man in the modern times. Internet is the constitutive element of the current times, sans which life seems to be a dead wood and bereft of technological assimilation.
Over the world, there are today a multitude of problems and a plethora of issues which really pose a serious and a grave challenge to the peace and order of the societal organisations. Kashmir is not a different case. It is in fact a looming imbroglio amuck with political crisis prior to the partition of the sub-continent, thence after and as of now with a renewed impetus and inroads of chaos and uncertainty. Every other day, the situations take a u-turn of additions and alterations with the passage of time and pose a serious challenge for the system to contain the problems at hand.
Since, the eruption of Amarnath land transfer controversy, through the tumultuous phases of 2010 and 2016 till date, the situations have achieved great uncertain proportions and reflect the growing tendencies of political waywardness in Kashmir. Whether we call it destiny, manoeuvring or inroads of tragic phases of political uncertainty, the situations are of enormous gravity as of now.
The internet is the major requirement of the masses all over the world, particularly for the students and business fraternity in the contemporary times. Next day, a cordon and search operation (CASO) is undertaken in the valley by the security agencies during anti-militancy operations, the major thrust of the government is driven towards the choking and muzzling of internet space in Kashmir.
In a place dogged with an overridden unhealthy political atmosphere with a restive nature, one cannot expect a peaceful scenario on the day-to-day basis.
The constitution of India as a guiding principle of rights and duties guarantees right to freedom of expression to the citizens of the country. People in Kashmir voice their dissent over the social media once an unfortunate and gory episode recurs in Vale. The gagging and censuring of media and net in Kashmir has become a new normal in Kashmir. By denying the people, particularly students, the access to information regarding the day-today happenings and latest information about the world situations and information influx, the government is in fact committing a major wrong in Kashmir.
The policy of net gagging in Kashmir might serve as a deterrent in the short term to keep the situation at control in tensive Kashmir, but the aftershocks of the situations cannot be negated. This is an illogical and irrational step in the far-sighted strategy. Since, 2008, Kashmir has been witness to internet blockades, e-curfews and blocking of Pakistani channels at the behest of the government.
Situations have arisen and gone, but the scars of the tragic episodes are there and every day the social media is abuzz with the narratives of the gory tales of the masses which the people have undergone in the long run.
It is a bizarre fact that a coin has two sides. Likewise, Net usage has rights and wrongs associated with it. Internet is the major requirement of people as of now. By choking the net space in Kashmir day-in and out, the government is doing wrong and it may resurface as backlash in the long run.
Instead of taking recourse to banning channels and choking net space in Kashmir, the major thrust of the government should be to take route towards betterment of good governance in J&K and dialogue with all the stakeholders which will serve as a better trigger to better the fragile situation in Kashmir which has unfortunately manifested into a dynamic malignancy and snatched the peace and order of the people’s lives, with an ensuing disorder and chaos looming large over the Asian sub-continent.
Since ceasefire to current political crisis, all is not well in Kashmir and the situations are turning from bad to worse with the passage of time. Today, the alienation among the masses is much more as was in the previous years.
What is therefore the required broad strategy of the government in the current times is to create a consensus and environment for dialogue on the Kashmir issue and restore the faith of people in the political order for the sake of peace which Kashmir is yearning for. There cannot be something divine intervention so far as issue at stake is in consideration; rather a strong political will to better the situation in Kashmir is the vital need of the hour.
Being in New Delhi for over four years as a student from 2011 to 2014, never have  I observed the media gag and net muzzling in mainland India..Why only in Kashmir? This question haunts my mind and is a great disgusting factor.
By resorting to media gagging and net muzzling, the government is committing a wrong step in contravention to the good governance principles which only dents the compassionate mainstreaming of the masses and creates a gory tale of otherness within the psyche of the people as a countermeasure in the long run. The government in J&K ought to understand the gravity of current political instability. Today’s media gag and tomorrow’s liberation will never serve the purpose. After all it is the question of collective pain and unified political approach within the purview of logical approach of political dealing.
Today Kashmir is in search of a dialogue and that is the sine-qua-non condition to rectify the errors and solidify the peace in the hinterland of idyllic setting in the world. Kashmir through the decades-old political alienation has ultimately pushed the masses to the wall.
The emphatic dealing after understanding the macroscopic dimensions of the Kashmir problem, people’s suffering, oppressive tactics and substitution with an ethic of care and concern within the purview of humane approach and entangled through the ropes of good governance can act as a best remedy to the political ailment and its remedy thereof.
[Abid Ahmad Shah works in the Govt. Education Dept. J&K, views are personal.]

Comment

Abid Ahmad Shah

The world of today is altogether in contradiction to the times of the previous ages. Technology has taken the global order by a major revolutionary storm and made the world a knowledge driven global network. Internet forms the mainstay of the current times and is in fact a boon companion of man in the modern times. Internet is the constitutive element of the current times, sans which life seems to be a dead wood and bereft of technological assimilation.
Over the world, there are today a multitude of problems and a plethora of issues which really pose a serious and a grave challenge to the peace and order of the societal organisations. Kashmir is not a different case. It is in fact a looming imbroglio amuck with political crisis prior to the partition of the sub-continent, thence after and as of now with a renewed impetus and inroads of chaos and uncertainty. Every other day, the situations take a u-turn of additions and alterations with the passage of time and pose a serious challenge for the system to contain the problems at hand.
Since, the eruption of Amarnath land transfer controversy, through the tumultuous phases of 2010 and 2016 till date, the situations have achieved great uncertain proportions and reflect the growing tendencies of political waywardness in Kashmir. Whether we call it destiny, manoeuvring or inroads of tragic phases of political uncertainty, the situations are of enormous gravity as of now.
The internet is the major requirement of the masses all over the world, particularly for the students and business fraternity in the contemporary times. Next day, a cordon and search operation (CASO) is undertaken in the valley by the security agencies during anti-militancy operations, the major thrust of the government is driven towards the choking and muzzling of internet space in Kashmir.
In a place dogged with an overridden unhealthy political atmosphere with a restive nature, one cannot expect a peaceful scenario on the day-to-day basis.
The constitution of India as a guiding principle of rights and duties guarantees right to freedom of expression to the citizens of the country. People in Kashmir voice their dissent over the social media once an unfortunate and gory episode recurs in Vale. The gagging and censuring of media and net in Kashmir has become a new normal in Kashmir. By denying the people, particularly students, the access to information regarding the day-today happenings and latest information about the world situations and information influx, the government is in fact committing a major wrong in Kashmir.
The policy of net gagging in Kashmir might serve as a deterrent in the short term to keep the situation at control in tensive Kashmir, but the aftershocks of the situations cannot be negated. This is an illogical and irrational step in the far-sighted strategy. Since, 2008, Kashmir has been witness to internet blockades, e-curfews and blocking of Pakistani channels at the behest of the government.
Situations have arisen and gone, but the scars of the tragic episodes are there and every day the social media is abuzz with the narratives of the gory tales of the masses which the people have undergone in the long run.
It is a bizarre fact that a coin has two sides. Likewise, Net usage has rights and wrongs associated with it. Internet is the major requirement of people as of now. By choking the net space in Kashmir day-in and out, the government is doing wrong and it may resurface as backlash in the long run.
Instead of taking recourse to banning channels and choking net space in Kashmir, the major thrust of the government should be to take route towards betterment of good governance in J&K and dialogue with all the stakeholders which will serve as a better trigger to better the fragile situation in Kashmir which has unfortunately manifested into a dynamic malignancy and snatched the peace and order of the people’s lives, with an ensuing disorder and chaos looming large over the Asian sub-continent.
Since ceasefire to current political crisis, all is not well in Kashmir and the situations are turning from bad to worse with the passage of time. Today, the alienation among the masses is much more as was in the previous years.
What is therefore the required broad strategy of the government in the current times is to create a consensus and environment for dialogue on the Kashmir issue and restore the faith of people in the political order for the sake of peace which Kashmir is yearning for. There cannot be something divine intervention so far as issue at stake is in consideration; rather a strong political will to better the situation in Kashmir is the vital need of the hour.
Being in New Delhi for over four years as a student from 2011 to 2014, never have  I observed the media gag and net muzzling in mainland India..Why only in Kashmir? This question haunts my mind and is a great disgusting factor.
By resorting to media gagging and net muzzling, the government is committing a wrong step in contravention to the good governance principles which only dents the compassionate mainstreaming of the masses and creates a gory tale of otherness within the psyche of the people as a countermeasure in the long run. The government in J&K ought to understand the gravity of current political instability. Today’s media gag and tomorrow’s liberation will never serve the purpose. After all it is the question of collective pain and unified political approach within the purview of logical approach of political dealing.
Today Kashmir is in search of a dialogue and that is the sine-qua-non condition to rectify the errors and solidify the peace in the hinterland of idyllic setting in the world. Kashmir through the decades-old political alienation has ultimately pushed the masses to the wall.
The emphatic dealing after understanding the macroscopic dimensions of the Kashmir problem, people’s suffering, oppressive tactics and substitution with an ethic of care and concern within the purview of humane approach and entangled through the ropes of good governance can act as a best remedy to the political ailment and its remedy thereof.
[Abid Ahmad Shah works in the Govt. Education Dept. J&K, views are personal.]


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Civil nuclear cooperation between India, Russia and Bangladesh: Implications for Pakistan

Asia Maqsood

India signed a tripartite agreement for the first time with Russia and Bangladesh for civil nuclear cooperation on March 1, 2018. Nuclear Power Cooperation of India Limited (NPCIL) is intended to play an active role for the construction of a nuclear power plant with the proposed supply of equipment, being built by Russia in Bangladesh. Simultaneously, India would train Bangladesh’s nuclear scientists for the project.
The agreement was signed in Moscow by Deputy Director General of Rosatom (Russia’s Alex civil nuclear body) Nikolay Spassky, Ambassador of Bangladesh in Russia S.M. Saiful Hoque and Indian Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran. Furthermore, Rosatom will construct a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh on a contract basis and assist in design, production and supply of equipment, installation, pre-commissioning and commissioning, Rosatom officials said.
It has its unique combination of active and passive safety systems providing the maximum resistance against external and internal impact, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and plane crash.
Earlier, India established its nuclear power plant station and operated the Kudankulam Plant built by Russia’s assistance and participated in the Russian project in Bangladesh. Indian companies may be involved in construction and installation works and the supply of material of non-critical category in this project, officials told Economic Times. “Today was a landmark event for both of our countries – and the industry as a whole.
We are confident that this is the first step toward the formation of a new, forward-looking cooperation agenda in the region,” Spassky said. This would be the first nuclear power plant in Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh have smooth trade ties and would be sharing good working experience with Russia in the field of civil nuclear energy.
This tripartite civil nuclear cooperation between Russia, India and Bangladesh would be the first occurrence where New Delhi will be involved in a civil nuclear project in Bangladesh. This demonstrates India’s entry into nuclear mainstreaming. At the same time, India is promoting its “Make in India” initiative in its proposal to Russia to make nuclear power reactors in India.
US global influence is relatively declining and other emerging powers such as Russia, India and China are pursuing their strategic interests globally and regionally. In this changing global international political environment, Pakistan is also seeking its partners other than the United States such as Russia and China. Pakistan’s policy makers must accommodate the country in regional developments through joint ventures with Russia, China and Bangladesh etc in order to avoid any of India’s policies to isolate it from the regional politics.
The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant involves two units, each with a capacity of 1200 MW and is situated on the bank of Padma River. It will be based on VVER-1200 reactors of the 3+ generation technology which is the most powerful reactor in Russia.
Pakistan is an energy starving country; it should formulate its policies to attract Russia to civil nuclear cooperation. Russia is India’s traditional defence partner since the Cold War era. Last year in April, 2017, India announced a $4.5 billion line of credit for development projects in Bangladesh and another $500 million for defence hardware purchases for Dhaka in order to deepen political and strategic ties between the two countries, during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India.
Both countries have no steady and trusted relationship with Pakistan and their growing ties are giving an impression that they are deliberately isolating Pakistan from regional politics. Earlier, Indian Atomic Energy Commission chairman Sekhar Basu said at the 61st general conference of the global nuclear watchdog IAEA, “We are collaborating with our Russian and Bangladeshi partners on establishing Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Bangladesh, in Sep 2017 as India’s first atomic energy venture abroad. Now, this initiative has been signed formally.”
The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant involves two units, each with a capacity of 1200 MW and is situated on the bank of Padma River. It will be based on VVER-1200 reactors of the 3+ generation technology which is the most powerful reactor in Russia. It has its unique combination of active and passive safety systems providing the maximum resistance against external and internal impact, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and plane crash.
With active efforts underway, it will be interesting to see if Bangladesh and India are successful in isolating Pakistan in the region. Should Pakistan now focus its attention on improving ties with Russia?
[Asia Maqsood has done M. Phil in Defence and Strategic Studies from Quaidi-Azam University Islamabad. She frequently writes on China Pakistan Economic Corridor and South Asia’s Strategic and Regional issues.]

Comment

Asia Maqsood

India signed a tripartite agreement for the first time with Russia and Bangladesh for civil nuclear cooperation on March 1, 2018. Nuclear Power Cooperation of India Limited (NPCIL) is intended to play an active role for the construction of a nuclear power plant with the proposed supply of equipment, being built by Russia in Bangladesh. Simultaneously, India would train Bangladesh’s nuclear scientists for the project.
The agreement was signed in Moscow by Deputy Director General of Rosatom (Russia’s Alex civil nuclear body) Nikolay Spassky, Ambassador of Bangladesh in Russia S.M. Saiful Hoque and Indian Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran. Furthermore, Rosatom will construct a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh on a contract basis and assist in design, production and supply of equipment, installation, pre-commissioning and commissioning, Rosatom officials said.
It has its unique combination of active and passive safety systems providing the maximum resistance against external and internal impact, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and plane crash.
Earlier, India established its nuclear power plant station and operated the Kudankulam Plant built by Russia’s assistance and participated in the Russian project in Bangladesh. Indian companies may be involved in construction and installation works and the supply of material of non-critical category in this project, officials told Economic Times. “Today was a landmark event for both of our countries – and the industry as a whole.
We are confident that this is the first step toward the formation of a new, forward-looking cooperation agenda in the region,” Spassky said. This would be the first nuclear power plant in Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh have smooth trade ties and would be sharing good working experience with Russia in the field of civil nuclear energy.
This tripartite civil nuclear cooperation between Russia, India and Bangladesh would be the first occurrence where New Delhi will be involved in a civil nuclear project in Bangladesh. This demonstrates India’s entry into nuclear mainstreaming. At the same time, India is promoting its “Make in India” initiative in its proposal to Russia to make nuclear power reactors in India.
US global influence is relatively declining and other emerging powers such as Russia, India and China are pursuing their strategic interests globally and regionally. In this changing global international political environment, Pakistan is also seeking its partners other than the United States such as Russia and China. Pakistan’s policy makers must accommodate the country in regional developments through joint ventures with Russia, China and Bangladesh etc in order to avoid any of India’s policies to isolate it from the regional politics.
The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant involves two units, each with a capacity of 1200 MW and is situated on the bank of Padma River. It will be based on VVER-1200 reactors of the 3+ generation technology which is the most powerful reactor in Russia.
Pakistan is an energy starving country; it should formulate its policies to attract Russia to civil nuclear cooperation. Russia is India’s traditional defence partner since the Cold War era. Last year in April, 2017, India announced a $4.5 billion line of credit for development projects in Bangladesh and another $500 million for defence hardware purchases for Dhaka in order to deepen political and strategic ties between the two countries, during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India.
Both countries have no steady and trusted relationship with Pakistan and their growing ties are giving an impression that they are deliberately isolating Pakistan from regional politics. Earlier, Indian Atomic Energy Commission chairman Sekhar Basu said at the 61st general conference of the global nuclear watchdog IAEA, “We are collaborating with our Russian and Bangladeshi partners on establishing Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Bangladesh, in Sep 2017 as India’s first atomic energy venture abroad. Now, this initiative has been signed formally.”
The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant involves two units, each with a capacity of 1200 MW and is situated on the bank of Padma River. It will be based on VVER-1200 reactors of the 3+ generation technology which is the most powerful reactor in Russia. It has its unique combination of active and passive safety systems providing the maximum resistance against external and internal impact, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and plane crash.
With active efforts underway, it will be interesting to see if Bangladesh and India are successful in isolating Pakistan in the region. Should Pakistan now focus its attention on improving ties with Russia?
[Asia Maqsood has done M. Phil in Defence and Strategic Studies from Quaidi-Azam University Islamabad. She frequently writes on China Pakistan Economic Corridor and South Asia’s Strategic and Regional issues.]


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