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Saturday, March 03, 2001

Nuclear monitoring

Bangladesh, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and by the terms of reference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is entitled to support and technology transfer from nuclear powers for its national agenda of peaceful uses of atomic energy. We have a long-standing atomic energy commission, and we have fair enough communications and exchanges with the atomic energy-related establishments of the UN.

We have not been able to make much headway, though, with our Rooppur Nuclear Power Project. No member of the nuclear club, nor any other advanced country with expertise as well as safe process and equipment for nuclear power generation have as yet come forward with technical assistance and support.

Be that as it may, our Atomic Energy Commission has been engaged in peaceful uses of their nuclear expertise in a limited way in agriculture and medicine. Nuclear power from our laboratory plant for research-bound fission programme has been used by the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission to help preservation of bio-germs of high-yielding crop varieties.

In nuclear medicine, the BAEC has been maintaining fourteen medical centres and institutes, and extending radio-active treatment to same one lakh patients annually for thyroid, liver, heart and brain diseases. The BAEC has also taken the initiative of establishing a tissue-bank. By preservation of human tissues with nuclear technology, medicament of burn patients and accident victims could be greatly facilitated in repair of damaged tissues.While we may thus continue to use and expand our nuclear expertise and equipment for productive and constructive purposes, it is time that we also think about a role model for ourselves in the world-wide network of nuclear know-how for instance.Bangladesh happens to be placed strategically in the midst of three neighbours with nuclear arms capability and arsenal.

The United Nations is duty-bound to monitor the radio activity in the region through IAEA. Bangladesh very much qualifies as a site for such monitoring activity. To expand our nuclear expertise and activity perhaps we could begin discussing that possibility in earnest with UN nuclear establishment.