Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday sought enhanced International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assistance for Bangladesh and other developing nations in implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through peaceful use of nuclear technology.
Addressing an IAEA conference in the Austrian capital, she said Bangladesh wants to draw maximum benefits from the peaceful uses of nuclear technologies through IAEA expertise and was keen to work with developing countries to forge greater cooperation.
"IAEA should strengthen its efforts to help member states, particularly the LDCs and developing countries, to implement the SDGs," she said.
The prime minister said capacity building and transfer of technologies are much needed for developing countries to achieve SDGs.
The premier, however, reaffirmed Bangladesh commitment to working with IAEA and other international partners in ensuring peaceful use of nuclear technology.
"Bangladesh is solidly anchored at its principled position on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation," she said.
The IAEA has organized the three-day conference titled "IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme -60 Years and Beyond: Contributing to Development" marking its 60th anniversary at Vienna Convention Centre.
Sheikh Hasina urged the developed countries to help maintain IAEA resources assured and sufficient for the technical cooperation programmes.
IAEA director general Yukiya Amano, Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and Uruguay President Tabare Vazquez also spoke on the occasion.
Sheikh Hasina praised IAEA for its dedicated efforts in promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy under its motto `Atoms for Peace and Development`, in the last 60 years.
She also thanked IAEA for its support to Bangladesh in its development over the last 45 years.
"IAEA holds a special place in Bangladesh`s development and energy security. It is one of the first few intergovernmental organizations that granted membership to Bangladesh in 1972, immediately after our War of Liberation," Sheikh Hasina said.
The premier also pointed out her family`s IAEA links since her eminent nuclear scientist husband late Dr. MA Wazed Miah represented Bangladesh in the IAEA for a long time.
"His (Wazed Miah) bold and forward-looking initiatives helped shaping the dream of the country`s Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Shiekh Mujibur Rahman for using the nuclear energy in peaceful purposes," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu established the Atomic Energy Research Centre (AERC) which for more than 30 years is working for research, radioisotope production, education and training purposes.
The prime minister said science, technology and innovation have a major role in Bangladesh`s current robust socioeconomic development.
She said a group of Bangladeshi scientists deciphered the genetic code of jute with a great success, and Bangladesh has also devised "science diplomacy" to ensure partnership for sustainable economic development through knowledge generation and sharing.
"We aim to make full use of science, technology and innovation to achieve a Digital Bangladesh," she said.
Accordingly, in the National Science and Technology Policy and the 7th Five Year Plan from 2016 to 2021, she said, the government has focused on finding solutions to the emerging problems in agriculture, food, health, environment and climate change sectors through application of science and technology.
The prime minister said Bangladesh enjoys an excellent collaboration with IAEA and successfully completed some 138 national projects with its technical cooperation and participated in 111 regional projects under Regional Cooperative Agreement (RCA).
Sheikh Hasina said under the framework of IAEA`s Technical Cooperation Program, Bangladesh has received support in many areas, such as, nuclear education and research, food safety, food security, human healthcare improvement, use of isotopes techniques in water and environment system management, industrial applications like Non Destructive Testing, crop and livestock improvement and pest control etc.
However, successes in two areas are very much noteworthy, she said, pointing out the achievements of Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture-BINA in development of high yielding and saline tolerant crops and progress of nuclear medical services in the country.
The prime minister said BINA has already developed 92 improved varieties of 13 crops by using nuclear technology, radiation and other advanced techniques which are high yielding, high nutritive, short duration, salt and flood tolerant and climate resilient.
BINA was awarded with the "Outstanding Achievement Award" in 2014 by FAO-IAEA for its contribution towards the achievement of food security. "Bangladesh today is self-sufficient in staple food production and even able to export surplus food grains," she added.
About the advancement of nuclear medical services in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina said the number of people having affordable access to diagnostic medical care has increased 10 times over the last twenty years, as the country has expanded and strengthened its nuclear medicine services.
Fifteen public and six private nuclear medicine institutes in the country carry out more than four hundred thousand nuclear medicine procedures each year in the areas of medical treatment, she said adding that use of most recent nuclear technologies in the treatment of cancer are a real help to the people.
Pointing out Bangladesh`s stepping into nuclear power generation programme, the prime minister said: "We regard nuclear energy as a safe, environment- friendly and economically viable source of electricity."
She said the Russian-supported Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will produce 2,400 megawatt electricity by two reactors. "Our aim is to generate at least 4,000 MW electricity from nuclear source by 2030," she said.
The electricity generation will meet the ever-increasing demand of electricity of 160 million people of Bangladesh and thus it will unlock Bangladesh`s development potentials through enhanced productivity and sustained growth, she said.