The government yesterday approved another project worth Tk 3,449 crore to enhance the security of the country’s first nuclear power plant in Rooppur, which tends to be vulnerable to attacks.
The project, which got the approval in the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, will look to address Design Basis Threat (DBT) and beyond as well as cybersecurity.
A DBT describes the capabilities of potential insider and external adversaries who might attempt unauthorised removal of nuclear and other radioactive material or sabotage.
The operator’s physical protection system is designed and evaluated on the basis of the DBT.
Potential external adversaries include terrorists and other criminals who might seek to use nuclear or other radioactive material for malicious purposes, or to sabotage a facility.
Insiders are individuals with authorised access to facilities, activities or sensitive information who could commit malicious acts or help external adversaries to do so.
The issue of cybersecurity is also critical.
Cyberattacks on nuclear power plants could have physical effects, especially if the network that runs the machines and software controlling the nuclear reactor are compromised.
This can be used to facilitate sabotage, theft of nuclear materials, or -- in the worst-case scenario -- a reactor meltdown.
In a densely populated country like Bangladesh, any radiation release from a nuclear facility would be a major disaster.
Earlier in September, the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tamil Nadu, India’s biggest nuclear power plant, became a target of cyberattack.
VirusTotal, a virus scanning website owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, has indicated that a large amount of data from the KKNPP’s administrative network was stolen.
If this is true, subsequent attacks on the nuclear power plant could target its critical systems more effectively.
One of the ambitious mega projects of the current Awami League-led government, construction on the $12.65 billion-power plant began in November 2017 by the Russian Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation.
It is expected to be completed by 2024 and would generate 2,400 megawatt electricity through two units.
“This project will ensure physical protection of the nuclear power plant,” Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told reporters after the meeting.
The project was undertaken as per the requirements of the Russian contractor and the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Bangladesh Army will be tasked for ensuring security, he added.
This follows another project worth Tk 1,710 crore approved last week for the plant’s security.
In yesterday’s meeting, five other projects involving Tk 990 crore were also given the green light.
MINISTERS UNHAPPY WITH BANKING SECTOR
At the meeting, three ministers expressed dissatisfaction about the state of the banking sector, as per meeting sources.
Their response came when the topic of lacklustre investment scenario was brought up in the meeting.
They said the interest rate was too high. Subsequently, they called for merging of a few poor banks with solid once and relieving the Bangladesh Bank from the finance ministry’s interference.