Iran begins nuclear fusion studies

July 25, 2010

TEHRAN -- The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has embarked upon an experimental study aimed at developing a nuclear fusion reactor.

AEOI Director Ali Akbar Salehi made the announcement on Saturday at a ceremony held to mark the beginning of the National Nuclear Fusion Program.
Iran has set an initial budget of 80 billion rials (about $7.65 million) for the project, and the budget will be adjusted based on the scope of the scientific studies to be carried out in the future, he said.
It would probably take 20 to 30 years before a nuclear fusion plant can be commercialized, he added.
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has hired 50 experts to work on the new project, he said.
Salehi also stated that Iran is ready to begin cooperation with any country or international organization to complete its experimental studies, adding that the International Atomic Energy Agency could be a very good source for cooperation.
Without a doubt, Iran has comprehensive experience in the field, which would make it a good candidate for the exchange of nuclear expertise, he said.
“We do not want to be just a taker,” he added.
Asked whether the sanctions recently imposed on Iran would have an impact on the nuclear fusion program, Salehi responded, “What have we been doing so far? Have the sanctions stopped us? We have enough expertise inside (the country) to move the program forward.”
However, he said that cooperation with other countries would accelerate the pace of the scientific studies.
Nuclear fusion occurs naturally in the Sun and other stars. It has so far only been used in producing the thermonuclear explosions of hydrogen bombs.
But no country has ever been able to harness the energy released in a nuclear fusion reaction for energy generation.
Cold fusion is the holy grail of nuclear energy. It would provide an unlimited source of cheap and clean power, but most experts say the breakthrough is decades away