`Iran to build world`s first N-fusion reactor`

A top Iranian official said that Tehran was conducting studies into building an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, which if successful would be the first such plant in the world.

Updated: Jul 24, 2010, 23:54 PM IST

Tehran: A top Iranian official said on Saturday
that Tehran was conducting studies into building an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, which if successful would
be the first such plant in the world.

"Studies and examining the feasibility of a national
plan titled `Designing and building experimental nuclear
fusion reactor and plant` are under way," Asghar Sedighzadeh,
head of Iran`s Nuclear Fusion Research Centre was quoted as
saying by ISNA news agency. He did not elaborate.

Earlier today, Iran`s atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi
said an eight-million-dollar fund had been set up to conduct
"serious" research in the area of nuclear fusion.

He said 50 people had been hired for the work, which
the Islamic republic began nearly three decades ago but was
initially "not very serious" about pursuing.

"Fusion research has been launched seriously today,"
ISNA quoted Salehi as saying.

"The start-up budget is 80 billion rials (eight
million dollars)," he said.

"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."

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

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 has always rejected Western suspicions that its
nuclear programme is aimed at developing a weapons capability.

In May, North Korea said it carried out a nuclear
fusion reaction that could lead to an almost limitless supply
of clean energy, a process that scientists have so far yet to
achieve.

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

PTI