Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni speaking to her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, foreground, on Friday.
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh said Saturday that Russia had formally agreed to assist the energy-starved South Asian country in building nuclear power plants.
"An agreement on cooperation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy to meet the growing power demand in the country was signed between the two countries in Moscow on Friday," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, witnessed the signing of the agreement between atomic energy corporation Rosatom and the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission.
Bangladesh had requested that Russian authorities assist in establishing two nuclear reactors with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts each by 2015, the spokesman said.
The plants are expected to cost up to $2 billion and begin generating electricity by 2014, said officials of the Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.
Bangladesh has plans to set up the nuclear power plants at Rooppur, 200 kilometers northwest of the capital, Dhaka, to help deal with growing power shortages.
Growing concern over power shortages led Bangladesh to consider nuclear energy as natural gas reserves are fast depleting and most coal fields remain unexploited.
Bangladesh now has nearly 60 power plants, mostly decades old and all fueled by gas or coal.
A power official said the country of 150 million experiences daily power shortfalls of 2,000 megawatts. Peak-hour demand stands at about 5,500 megawatts.
According to the agreement, Rosatom will help Bangladesh AEC in designing, constructing and operating nuclear power and research reactors.
The company will also supply nuclear fuel, take back spent nuclear fuel, manage nuclear waste and train personnel for operation and maintenance of the plant.