wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05DHAKA3635
2005-07-28 07:33:00
SECRET
Embassy Dhaka
Cable title:  

BANGLADESHI SCIENCE MINISTER WANTS NUCLEAR POWER

Tags:   ENRG  ECON  MNUC  PARM  PREL  TRGY  TSPL  BG  CH  BGD 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 003635 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY FOR ANNE KOHNEN, NNSA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2015
TAGS: ENRG ECON MNUC PARM PREL TRGY TSPL BG CH BGD
SUBJECT: BANGLADESHI SCIENCE MINISTER WANTS NUCLEAR POWER
PLANT; CONTACTS CHINESE


Classified By: Acting PolEcon Counselor David Renz; reason 1.4(d)(e)

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 003635

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY FOR ANNE KOHNEN, NNSA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2015
TAGS: ENRG ECON MNUC PARM PREL TRGY TSPL BG CH BGD
SUBJECT: BANGLADESHI SCIENCE MINISTER WANTS NUCLEAR POWER
PLANT; CONTACTS CHINESE


Classified By: Acting PolEcon Counselor David Renz; reason 1.4(d)(e)


1. (S) SUMMARY: Bangladesh's Minister of Science has told
U.S. officials he wants to obtain a commercial nuclear
reactor to supply electric power to Bangladesh. No other BDG
ministry has expressed support for Khan's proposal. Khan has
also approached the Chinese with his interest in a reactor,
creating an opportunity for China to supply nuclear
technology to Bangladesh. END SUMMARY.


2. (C) During a meeting in June between Washington visitors
Anish Goel, Marcella Szymanski, EconOff and the Minister of
Science, Information, Communication and Technology (SICT)
Moyeen Khan, the Minister requested assistance from the U.S.
in obtaining a nuclear power plant and training for nuclear
physicists. On a second occasion, during a July 20 visit by
EconOff to the office of C.S. Karim, the new Chair of the
Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC), Karim stated,
without elaborating, that the Science Minister wants to
engage in increased cooperation with the U.S. Department of
Energy. Karim later passed documents to EconOff relating to
nuclear power reactors and research facilities.


3. (C) Following the July 20 meeting in his office at which
radiological security measures and a Joint Science and
Technology Agreement between the U.S. and Bangladesh were
discussed, Karim accompanied EconOff to her car. It was at
this point that Karim passed two English-language documents
to EconOff. The first detailed the features of a type of
nuclear power plant available for sale in the U.S. that is
compatible with Bangladesh's power grid and financial
capacity. The second document outlined U.S. laboratories at
which Bangladeshi scientists might be able to obtain training

in nuclear technology.


4. (S) In this private conversation, Chairman Karim said that
the Minister was also "working with another country" and that
this other country "did not have peaceful purposes in mind."
From the context of both the formal meeting and the
subsequent private conversation, EconOff believes Karim meant
to convey that Minister Khan had also approached China with
his request to obtain a nuclear reactor. Bangladesh recently
signed a series of cooperation agreements with China,
including one on the use of nuclear technology that is
publicly described as being for medicine and other benign
research pursuits, adding further context to the
conversation. Karim's cryptic reference to the 'other
country' not having "peaceful purposes in mind" may have been
a reference to dual use technology or a more general
editorial comment to the effect that China's interests in
cooperating with Bangladesh on civilian nuclear matters were
less than altruistic.


5. (S) The Minister of Science is a nuclear physicist by
training and trade, having taught at Dhaka University before
joining the BNP government. He has reportedly fallen out of
favor with the Prime Minister for poor performance with his
portfolio. Chairman Karim is also a trained and practicing
nuclear scientist. He is a frequent contact of EconOff from
his days as a BAEC Board Member and his work to get DOE
radiological security contracts approved by the Minister of
Science. Karim's recent promotion to Chairman of the BAEC by
the Prime Minister's Office indicates that his star is
rising.


6. (S) COMMENT: Bangladesh faces a chronic shortage of
electric generating capacity and the Prime Minister's Office
is keen to obtain commitments for new capacity prior to
elections in 2006/07. Minister Khan may see obtaining a
commercial nuclear power plant as a way for the Science
Ministry to get in on this high profile issue, which
principally falls under the Ministry of Energy, Power and
Natural Resources. (Prime Minister Zia is also the Energy,
Power and Natural Resources Minister). Khan probably sees a
reactor as a logical choice, given his background. Karim
seemed somewhat ambivalent about the idea of a nuclear power
plant, but said that he felt it was good for Bangladesh,
apparently recognizing the contribution it could make to the
country's power generation requirements.


7. (S) COMMENT CONTINUED: It does not appear that Khan's
interest in a nuclear reactor has support from other
ministries or the PM's Office. Nor does Khan appear
interested in non-peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Khan
has, however, created an opening for China to introduce
nuclear technology to Bangladesh. It remains to be seen
whether China will seek to take advantage of this
opportunity. END COMMENT.
CHAMMAS