Russia, Bangladesh and India on 1 March in Moscow signed a memorandum on trilateral cooperation in the implementation of the project to build the Rooppur nuclear plant in Bangladesh. The signatories were Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom Deputy Director General for International Affairs Nikolay Spassky,  Bangladesh Ambassador to Russia S.M. Sayful Hawke, and Indian Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran.  

Rosatom is building the Rooppur NPP for the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) on a turnkey basis, with Atomstroyexport  (ASE – part of Rosatom’s engineering division) as general contractor. The memorandum lays the foundation for co-operation between  ASE and Indian and Bangladeshi experts in the field of personnel training and training, exchange of experience and consulting support. Indian companies can participate in construction and installation work, supplies of materials and equipment in a non-critical category. As India is not a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which controls global nuclear commerce, it cannot participate directly in reactor construction, and this will be the first instance of its involvement in the construction of an NPP on foreign soil.  

The memorandum is based on an Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement signed in November 2011. The initial contract for the $12.65bn project was signed in December 2015. The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA) issued the first site licence for the Rooppur plant in June 2016, allowing preliminary site works, including geological surveys, to begin. The NPP will comprise two Russian-designed VVER-1200 reactor units with unit 1 of Russia’s Novovoronezh-II NPP as the reference plant. In 2015-2016, preparatory work was carried out on the construction site, working documentation was developed, as well as materials justifying the construction licences. First concrete was poured in November 2017 for unit 1, which is scheduled to begin operation in 2023 followed by unit 2 in 2024. BAERA issued a design and construction licence to the BAEC in February, enabling the plant to move to the construction phase.