Iran claims `nuclear fusion mastered`

Nuclear fusion has long been touted as a cheap energy source of the future.

Updated: Feb 11, 2011, 16:04 PM IST

Tehran: Iran`s atomic body claimed on Thursday it has mastered the technology of nuclear fusion, in a declaration on the eve of the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

"By the method of inertial confinement lasers, significant research has been successfully conducted in the field of nuclear fusion," the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran said on its website.

Without saying that an actual fusion experiment had been successfully carried out, it stated that "a machine to make nuclear fusion laser was manufactured by the faculty of science and technology at the AEOI."

"With the manufacture of this machine... Iran becomes the sixth country to master this technology," after United States, Japan, France, Australia and South Korea, it said.

In July, Iran said it was looking into how to build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, adding that if successful it would be the first such plant in the world.

Iran`s then atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran had set up an USD 8 million fund to conduct "serious" research into nuclear fusion.

"It takes 20 to 30 years before this process can be commercialised but we have to use all the capacity in the country to provide the necessary speed for fusion research," Salehi was quoted as saying at the time.

Nuclear fusion has long been touted as a cheap, safe and clean energy source of the future, but efforts to harness it for power generation have so far failed to bear fruit.

Japan, China, South Korea, the United States, Russia, the European Union and India have come together in a unique project called ITER to build in France an experimental reactor, with a budget so far of EUR 12 billion.

Physicists worldwide are striving to develop a nuclear fusion power plant, a project which the International Atomic Energy Agency terms "a great challenge”.

Fusion is used in the hydrogen bomb, in which fissile material like that in a simple nuclear warhead launches the process by which atomic nuclei fuse together to release energy.

Iran`s efforts in the field of nuclear technology have always caused concerns in the West which suspects the Islamic republic is making weapons under the guise of a civilian atomic programme. Tehran denies the charge.

As it has every year, Iran has been boasting of scientific and military achievements in the run-up to Friday`s anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

Bureau Report