Iran plans to build nuclear fusion reactor

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Saturday it planned to build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, state television reported, at a time when the West is demanding that Tehran suspend sensitive nuclear work.

In 2006, Iran said it was pressing ahead with research tests on nuclear fusion, a type of atomic reaction which has yet to be developed for commercial power generation, but this was the first mention in years that the work was continuing.

“We need two years to complete the studies on constructing and then another 10 years to design and build the reactor,” Asqar Sediqzadeh, head of Iran’s Nuclear Fusion Research Center, told Iran’s English-language Press TV.

The United States and its European allies suspect Iran is trying to build an atomic bomb, and have imposed sanctions on it in a drive to convince it to drop sensitive nuclear work. Tehran says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.

Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran was ready to co-operate with the international community over the country’s National Fusion Energy Project, the Students News Agency ISNA reported, without mentioning the plan to build the reactor.

“The scientific phase of the fusion energy research project is being launched with no budgetary limitation,” Salehi said.

Commercial nuclear reactors rely on nuclear fission, a process that generates energy from splitting atoms.

Writing by Hashem Kalantari, Editing by Myra MacDonald