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AEOI to Collaborate in ITER Megaproject

ITER's first full-power fusion will not take place before 2035 as the cost estimate has ballooned to nearly four times the original estimate of around $5.6 billion
Scientists hope that ITER would realize the age-old dream of harnessing an endless supply of sustainable power.Scientists hope that ITER would realize the age-old dream of harnessing an endless supply of sustainable power.

Iran on Saturday signed the first agreement for cooperation in ITER, a global megaproject  aimed to produce clean, safe and theoretically limitless energy from nuclear power.

The nondisclosure agreement was signed in Tehran Saturday by Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), and Bernard Bigot, head of the ITER nuclear fusion project, IRNA reported.

"The agreement was signed after an understanding on some general terms of cooperation. We hope to officially join the ITER project by the yearend," Salehi said.

The two sides are ironing out the details of a second agreement which is expected to be signed in the next few weeks, Salehi said without providing details.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, known as ITER, is an experimental reactor that will generates power by combining atoms in a process similar to the nuclear fusion that produces energy of the sun.

The idea behind ITER was set in motion in 1985 in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence in the now-famous Cadarache facility, a scientific research center that specializes in nuclear power research.

Scientists hope that ITER would realize the age-old dream of harnessing an endless supply of sustainable power.

"AEOI will collaborate with ITER in software and hardware areas," said the nuclear chief, adding that Iran's research centers for nuclear fusion will come under ITER oversight after the country becomes an official member.

According to Bigot, ITER's first full-power fusion will not take place before 2035 as the cost estimate has ballooned to nearly four times the original estimate of around $5.6 billion.

ITER's fusion reactor has been designed to produce 500 megawatts of ower for several seconds while needing 50 MW to operate.

  Iran's Efforts

Iran's activities in the nuclear field go back more than four decades, when the country's Research Institute of Plasma Physics and Thermonuclear Reaction was founded in 1974.

Iran and France agreed to cooperate on the multi-national nuclear fusion project during a five-day visit of a high-level delegation, led by Salehi, to France in June.

"Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari will lead the project … One of the fruits of the nuclear agreement (signed with the six world powers) is joining this research project," Salehi said.

ITER is led by seven member states — the European Union, India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. A total of 35 nations are collaborating to build the world's largest magnetic fusion device in France.

Some international sanctions over the dispute on Iran's nuclear program were lifted in January following a landmark deal between Tehran and the world powers in mid-2015 to curb Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

"ITER will be the ultimate solution in the sustainable supply of energy," Salehi was quoted as saying.

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