Bangladesh agrees nuclear power deal with Russia

image captionBangladesh currently relies on dilapidated gas-fired power plants

Bangladesh has agreed to build two new nuclear power plants with Russian help as the country looks to close a yawning power deficit.

"We have signed the deal... to ease the power crisis that hampers our economic activities," said Bangladesh's Science Minister Yeafesh Osman.

Mr Osman said the two plants would have a capacity of 1,000 megawatts each.

He said that construction of the plants would start by 2013 and would take five years to complete.

The deal in Dhaka was signed on Wednesday between Mr Osman and Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation Director-General Sergei Kiriyenko.

New safety features

Russia will provide technical support for building the two generators - at Rooppur in Pabna district, 120km (75 miles) north of the capital, Dhaka.

Russia will help to provide legal and staffing support.

Russian officials say that Moscow will supply funding for the plants in addition to providing fuel. Russia will also take back depleted fuel rods for safe storage.

The plants will implement new safety features following the nuclear accident in Fukushima in Japan, they say.

Bangladesh currently relies on dilapidated gas-fired plants for its power supplies and experiences daily electricity shortfalls of about 2,000 megawatts.

Erratic electricity supplies have been blamed for hampering industrial production and economic growth.

Correspondents say that the country of 150 million people also has about 3.3 billion tonnes of coal reserves - and is looking into constructing coal-firing power plants to maintain its 5% annual growth.

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