Bangladesh Wants Korea to Build Nuclear Power Plant
The Bangladeshi government has proposed that Korea build the first nuclear power plant on its soil.
Bangladeshi Ambassador to Korea Shahidul Islam told The Korea Times that his government has been asking Korea to initiate a nuclear energy project as part of Korea's development aid program. Korea is rejecting the proposal.
The project is estimated at $9 billion, and the government had gone well ahead by selecting a spot for the plant.
An official at the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of Korea said his office receives the faxed proposal on a regular basis for years now. However, it won't accept it for one reason in particular.
"It's against OECD regulations to help build a nuclear facility in a recipient country, even though it is for peaceful purposes," the official said on condition of anonymity.
The bank is in charge of offering loans for developing countries.
Bangladesh is the second-largest recipient of Korea's development loan, having receiving $130 million in 2008.
Ambassador Islam emphasized on the necessity of a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh to overcome its power shortage.
The world's most densely populated country has relied on natural gas from its reserves for power. "We need to find another source," he said.
The envoy's comment came at an interesting time, for Korea is surfacing as a new player in the global nuclear energy competition.
It beat France and the United States, two strong players, last December in a bid to construct nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates.
Despite the issue surrounding management of its waste, nuclear energy is gaining momentum as a future energy, which has no environmental price.
The ambassador's comments came on the same day the Korea-Bangladesh Friendship Forum, a venue for discussions among academics, businessmen and lawmakers, was inaugurated last week at the National Assembly.
Ahn Seong-doo, deputy director general of the South Asian- Pacific affairs bureau at the foreign ministry, said Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit this year will add to interaction between the two governments.
No South Korean president has yet been to Bangladesh.
Ahn said the two parties are under consultation for a detailed schedule of the prime minister's visit.
Rep. Kim Choong-whan of the governing Grand National Party, chairman of the Korea-Bangladesh Parliamentary Friendship Association, hoped the forum would diversify the dimensions of the bilateral ties that are mainly dominated by the issue of Bangladeshi citizens working in Korea.
The number of Bangladeshi people in Korea has been increasing, though so has the number of the undocumented.
According to Korea Immigration Service's statistics, 7,300 Bangladeshi citizens are in Korea as of January 2010, and 3,000 of them are illegal.
Professor Kim Chan-wahn from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies called for the creation of a student exchange program that would contribute to raising awareness of the country and spreading information about Bangladesh in Korea.
"We have many businessmen, but not many students," he told the audience, saying the exchange program would eventually lead to create a pool of experts on Bangladesh.