Iran: We have started nuclear fusion

posted at 8:30 am on August 1, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Internationally, the Iranians insist that they pursue nuclear technology as a means to produce energy, despite the fact that they sit on a sea of oil.  They categorically deny attempts to build nuclear weapons and scoff at opposition to their efforts.  Internally, though, they apparently have some other uses in mind, as this comment — reported by Iran’s official news agency — reveals:

The official Iranian news agency (IRNA) quotes Expediency Council chief, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani as saying, “We have started the first activities of nuclear fusion.”

Rafsanjani made the remarks today during a speech delivered to a gathering of students at Tehran’s Jamaran Hoseynieh.

Civilian nuclear power comes from fission, the splitting of atoms and the heat it releases.  Fusion, on the other hand, has other uses as well.  Hydrogen bombs rely on carefully constructed stages of both fission and fusion for their enormous release of power.  In fact, thus far, hydrogen bombs have been the only successful and reliable fusion reactions produced by man.

It’s possible that the Iranians have decided to skip over fission reactors in their pursuit of electrical power, even though no one else has been able to create a practical fusion reactor after several decades of research.  It seems more likely that bragging about progress on fusion has a lot more to do with the construct of a weapon rather than any peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Maybe those who believe that a chat will resolve this issue with the Iranians would like to explain how a hydrogen bomb figures into those calculations.

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Hey, the Sun produces power via fusion.

Maybe the Islamic Republic is trying to create a backup for the case the Jooooooos steal the Sun.

Aristotle on August 1, 2008 at 8:37 AM

That is verry bad news. India has been trying to develop fusion based technology for civilian purpose, but results are not very encouraging.

Gaurav on August 1, 2008 at 8:40 AM

>It seems more likely that bragging about progress on fusion has a lot more to do with the construct of a weapon rather than any peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Or that they where misquoted or we got a bad translation or …

The other possibility is that the whole thing is a bluff and they don’t even know the difference between the two. Given their recent shenanigans, I’d almost be willing to put money on that one.

Diogenes of Sinope on August 1, 2008 at 8:40 AM

The Germans were making sewing machine parts that were also fitted to assemble machine guns. They had medium civilian sized air liners with fitted bomb bays. Human nature wants to deny danger in order to appear more sophisticated. Everyone knows what Iran is up to and while Russia, China, and the rest of the nations that want to see the destruction of the USA deny the clear and present danger, millions of lives are at stake.

We’ve had almost thirty years to put an end to this, but we keep waiting and watching the monster grow. I’m not sure if it’s so this will be a fair fight or if we’ve just been lead by fools all along.

Hening on August 1, 2008 at 8:42 AM

It seems much more likely that he just said the wrong word i.e. fusion instead of fission. He wouldn’t have been the first to have done so. Just as Ed Morrissey and I have used Iraq and Iran incorrectly in place of each other when we both no which is which.

burt on August 1, 2008 at 8:49 AM

We have started the first activities of nuclear fusionconfusion

Fixed

dentalque on August 1, 2008 at 8:51 AM

It doesn’t sound good for the Jooooos, regardless what word it used.

tarpon on August 1, 2008 at 8:53 AM

Tick Tick Tick… BOOM. No more Iran.

Static on August 1, 2008 at 8:56 AM

We have started the first activities of nuclear fusion.

Sitting around lighting off hummus farts most likely. “Look, ALi, the colors!”

GeneSmith on August 1, 2008 at 8:57 AM

Is he TRYING to see what IAF planes look like up close and personal?

mjk on August 1, 2008 at 8:58 AM

Is he TRYING to see what IAF planes look like up close and personal?

mjk on August 1, 2008 at 8:58 AM

I think so. He’s trying to provoke teh Joooooooooos to unite the Islamic world. Then, you know who can enter the scene…..

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on August 1, 2008 at 9:01 AM

In my earlier remarks about using the wrong word I incorrectly used a wrong word, no for know. I do know the difference.

India is a very late comer to the controlled fusion party. The US program goes back six decades. The programs in Japan and Eastern and Western Europe are almost as old. The expenditures have probably been a few hundreds of billions of dollars.

burt on August 1, 2008 at 9:02 AM

I don’t think Sean Penn knows the difference between “fission” and “fusion”. Senator Obama remarked that Rafsanjani’s comments were inartful.

/sarc

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on August 1, 2008 at 9:03 AM

Iranians insist that they pursue nuclear technology as a means to produce energy, despite the fact that they sit on a sea of oil.

Iran’s uranium reserves can produce an amount of electricity equivalent to 45 billion barrels over oil. Iran’s oil reserves are a little of 90 billion barrels. The US expects Iran to waste half of its known oil reserves when the same amount of electricity can be obtained from another source. The US wants to destroy ANWR for 8 billion barrels of oil, but demands that Iran leave the equivalent of 45 billion barrels of oil in the ground.

So let’s turn the situation around. Let’s say that Muslim countries demand that the US not drill for oil in ANWR, and that they “promise” to give us some oil as compensation. They warn that if the US does not comply, there will be sanctions, followed by possible bombings and invasion. I am sure the US would respond positively to this.

dave742 on August 1, 2008 at 9:03 AM

That’s OK, I’m sure the Iranians will only use the bombs they build for peaceful means.

NoDonkey on August 1, 2008 at 9:04 AM

I’ll go with the mistranslation of “fission”.

ParisParamus on August 1, 2008 at 9:05 AM

Just a thought. If the statement was correct – fusion – then that would mean that an atomic device already existed, and that they are attempting to move on to a thermo-nuclear device.

That’s not good!

OldEnglish on August 1, 2008 at 9:07 AM

How long will Israel wait? I’ve read various opinions that speak of retaliation based on the timing of OUR elections. In reality, I feel that Israel removing the threat will be based on their own best interest and chances for survival. With Olmert stepping aside and the possibility of Netanyahu replacing him, will they wait until Olmert is gone or neutralize Iran sooner?

mimi1220 on August 1, 2008 at 9:08 AM

We must neutralize the inartful Iranian threat by engaging them in diplomatic nuance.

petefrt on August 1, 2008 at 9:15 AM

You say fission
and I say fusion.
You say verification
And I say subterfugium.

Fission.
Fusion.
Verification.
Subterfugium.

Let’s blow the whole world up!

Shy Guy on August 1, 2008 at 9:23 AM

dave742 on August 1, 2008 at 9:03 AM

It depends. In your scenario, did the US sign a treaty stating that it would not drill for oil in Alaska and when the world caught us building derricks, did we say “Oh no, we’re drilling water wells”?

Kafir on August 1, 2008 at 9:24 AM

Good people of Iran revolt! Take over your government before you get evaporated for their actions. Most of the people of Iran are very pro-West. I believe this is one of the main reasons we have not attacked them in any way; hope is fading that the people will take over their government.

carbon_footprint on August 1, 2008 at 9:27 AM

Shy Guy on August 1, 2008 at 9:23 AM

Not bad at all.

carbon_footprint on August 1, 2008 at 9:27 AM

Kafir:
You post baffles me. Iran did not sign a treaty saying it would not enrich uranim. It’s the exact opposite. Iran signed a treaty that nearly every country in the world also signed which recognized Iran’s inalienable right to mine and enrich uranium. Not only does the treaty recognize that right, it promises to aid Iran in doing so. Your post is nonsensical.

dave742 on August 1, 2008 at 9:33 AM

Iran’s uranium reserves can produce an amount of electricity equivalent to 45 billion barrels over oil. Iran’s oil reserves are a little of 90 billion barrels. The US expects Iran to waste half of its known oil reserves when the same amount of electricity can be obtained from another source. The US wants to destroy ANWR for 8 billion barrels of oil, but demands that Iran leave the equivalent of 45 billion barrels of oil in the ground.

So let’s turn the situation around. Let’s say that Muslim countries demand that the US not drill for oil in ANWR, and that they “promise” to give us some oil as compensation. They warn that if the US does not comply, there will be sanctions, followed by possible bombings and invasion. I am sure the US would respond positively to this.

dave742 on August 1, 2008 at 9:03 AM

You are dumb as a bag of hammers, aren’t ya?

How does that last paragraph differ from what is actually occurring now? After all, the Saudi’s and Hugo Chavez routinely persuade us not to drill for our own oil, but to buy theirs at a cheaper price, then use our money to pay for things to hurt us, including invasion (buying property and businesses in the US), sanctions (Hugo routinely threatens to cut off our oil unless we agree to support him as President for Life, and by the way, save Fidel with our miracle cures), and bombings (95%+ of the homicide bombers in the world today are Muslims who have an agenda to kill Americans).

How can one “destroy ANWR” by drilling on 2000 acres of a multimillion acre tract, most of which is swampy mud flats where not much grows, including caribou. Except the mosquitos do quite well there. The land is all still there. The mosquitoes still breed, the caribou still walk thru far away from the swampy end, and the fish still make love in the ocean.

And it costs about 100 times as much to get uranium into a usable form to make electricity than it does to use oil for the same purpose. Plus no one seriously intends to kill millions of people using oil bombs when regular PBXN or C-4 or other high explosives would do the job so much neater and cheaper. I guess the Iranians are really all about spending money to pull stuff out of the ground that isn’t economical to use.

Drive your solar powered car down to the beach much, do you? Don’t use sunscreen or you’ll eliminate the cells effectiveness and rot your brain in the process. Just accept the increased risk of skin cancer later in life.

Subsunk

Subsunk on August 1, 2008 at 9:34 AM

In happier news today in Iran…..

Shy Guy on August 1, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Dave:

Where do you get the figure of 8 billion barrels for ANWR. I’ve been to the potential drill site, and I can tell you that no one knows what may be under that ground. 8 billion is an estimate, such estimates are usually absurdly low compared to what is really there. The original estimate for Prudhoe would have meant that it was emptied out by now. It is still our largest single domestic source of oil and there is plenty left.
BTW, if the Iranians want to “give” us oil in exchange for not drilling our own, I think we’d have the good sense to accept it. If all the Iranians really want is nuclear power, then the international community has offered them the sweetheart deal of all sweetheart deals. We have offered them the equivalent of the Sierra Club offering every family in America a free Prius in return for not drilling ANWR.

fleiter on August 1, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Iran has Tested missiles for an electromagnetic pulse weapon that could destroy America’s technical infrastructure.

Reference:
Iran plans to knock out U.S. with 1 nuclear bomb

luckybogey on August 1, 2008 at 9:50 AM

Subsunk:

“After all, the Saudi’s and Hugo Chavez routinely persuade us not to drill for our own oil”

You are comparing the pressure being put on Iran by the West, including three rounds of sanctions and constant threats of bombings and invasions, to what pressure from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela? Can you explain to me what methods the Saudi’s and Venezuelan’s are using to “persuade” us to not drill in ANWR, and compare that to the Iranian situation? I never realized that we are not drilling in ANWR due to Saudi and Venezuelan demands. This is a new revelation for me. Please explain.

“Hugo routinely threatens to cut off our oil unless we agree to support him as President for Life”

You are obviously ranting. Can you show me where Hugo Chavez said this? Chavez simply wanted to remove term limits, the same as Australia and France.

95%+ of the homicide bombers in the world today are Muslims”

No. Over half of suicide bombers are secular.

“it costs about 100 times as much to get uranium into a usable form to make electricity than it does to use oil for the same purpose”

Can you show me where you got this stat? I have this nagging suspicion that this stat came directly out of your little pinhead. Why does Russia, an oil exporter, also have nuclear power plants? Why does the US build nuclear power plants when we can simply buy oil for 1% of the price?
Fleeter:

Where do you get the figure of 8 billion barrels for ANWR.

“In 1998, the USGS estimated that between 5.7 and 16.0 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil1 are in the coastal plain area of ANWR (also referred to as the 1002 Area), with a mean estimate of 10.4 billion barrels, of which 7.7 billion barrels falls within the Federal portion of the ANWR 1002 Area.”

I rounded up the 7.7 billion number.

“if the Iranians want to ‘give’ us oil in exchange for not drilling our own, I think we’d have the good sense to accept it.”

I don’t think the West is offering to “give” Iran uranium. I think they are offering a “promise” to supply it. I think Iran would have to pay something for it.
Even if, in my scenario, Iran offered to give the US an equivalent amount of oil, a demand by Iran on the US not to drill in ANWR would be met with complete contempt by both our government and our citizens. I think you know this is true.

“the international community has offered them the sweetheart deal”

The international community has made offers before concerning Iran’s nuclear power program. Those offers were not fulfilled. The US made offers to the DPRK regarding their nuclear program. Those offers were not fulfilled. The US signed a treaty outlining behaviour regarding nuclear weapons and nuclear power. That treaty has been broken in several ways by the US. Iran has seen enough of US promises.

dave742 on August 1, 2008 at 10:08 AM

Sign on Ahmad’s door: Gone fission.

JiangxiDad on August 1, 2008 at 10:38 AM

they even released a picture.

CaptainObvious on August 1, 2008 at 10:39 AM

Given their recent shenanigans, I’d almost be willing to put money on that one.

Diogenes of Sinope on August 1, 2008 at 8:40 AM

But would you bet your life on it?

Johan Klaus on August 1, 2008 at 10:50 AM

The US wants to destroy ANWR for 8 billion barrels of oil, but demands that Iran leave the equivalent of 45 billion barrels of oil in the ground.
dave742 on August 1, 2008 at 9:03 AM

” All President Bush has asked is that oil exploration take place on 2,000 acres within ANWR – itself 19.5 million acres in size. That’s a tract about the size of a big-city airport in an area the size of South Carolina with a population of fewer than 2,000.” I do not think that drilling in less than two thousand acres would destroy ANWR.

Johan Klaus on August 1, 2008 at 10:55 AM

It seems more likely that bragging about progress on fusion has a lot more to do with the construct of a weapon rather than any peaceful use of nuclear energy.

I think such plain possibilities as that Rafsanjani isn’t clear on the distinction between fission and fusion deserved at least to be acknowledged.

Kralizec on August 1, 2008 at 11:15 AM

fleiter:

“sweetheart deals”

An empty promise is not a sweatheart deal. If the US wants to give Iran a sweatheart deal, then they should pay Iran for not processing their uranium resources. Iran has the equivalent of 45 billion barrels of oil. Price per barrel = $120. No promises, but pay now. 45 billion x $120 = 5.4 trillion. If the US pays Iran 5.4 trillion immediately, I believe Iran would agree.

Johan Klaus:

I do not think that drilling in less than two thousand acres would destroy ANWR.

The word “destroy” has nothing to do with the point I was making. You are free to leave the word out.

dave742 on August 1, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Thinking maybe I need to add a bomb shelter to my list of cash, staple foods and lots of guns and ammo. :-O

dustoffmom on August 1, 2008 at 11:21 AM

If they don’t know the difference between fission and fusion, perhaps they shouldn’t be playing with it. But if they insist, one can only hope they experience a Russian Chernobal. At the very least, maybe that will wake up Iran’s neighbors.

GarandFan on August 1, 2008 at 11:30 AM

Iranian Diplomat #2: “We have started the process of matter/anti-matter combination to further our development of the warp drive and photon torpedo. Of course, this is all for civilian use only. Ka’plah!”

Nethicus on August 1, 2008 at 12:04 PM

Here’s how you end this crap with no stain on America or Israel. Just sneak a suitcase nuke and detonate it in or near one of their facilities. Chalk it up to an accident and scold the Iranians on two fronts: Lying about nukes and not being careful with what they are doing.

Better still, plan it to coincide with a visit by Am-A-Jerk and the Supreme Ruler.

mustng66 on August 1, 2008 at 12:05 PM

They could just photoshop a h-bomb explosion and claim it as their own.

Mojave Mark on August 1, 2008 at 12:12 PM

“Fusion” can mean a fusion weapon — i.e., a hydrogen bomb, or the more far-off idea of commercial energy production through fusion. Nothing I’ve read so far indicates that the Iranians are anywhere close to the competence to produce a fusion weapon. The engineering challenges of such an undertaking make building a fission bomb look like first-grade fingerpainting. Just the theoretical aspects are almost too difficult to grasp.

Production of electricity though fusion proposes even greater challenges. While there are many potential benefits of a fusion reactor over fission — for instance, it would produce almost no waste — the engineering obstacles are enormous. There is no known material that could contain the type of reaction that powers the sun, for example. There are many other problems as well, which is why nobody in the West has yet produced a viable design for a commercial fusion reactor.

All of this tells me that A-jad is, as usual, full of shit. The Iranians may be close to a fission weapon but they couldn’t possibly be close to a fusion model. I don’t think A-jad could even photoshop his way out of this one.

Cicero43 on August 1, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Shy Guy on August 1, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Was that a flux capacitor? Seriously, yeah, fusion (IMO) is the long term solution to our energy needs. Emphasis on long term. There’s been a lot of progress made, they’re using floating magnetic containment now, and they have the reaction up to a few seconds, IIRC. I don’t see anything commercially available in the first half of the century. That is the long term stuff His Holiness keeps telling us about (though I doubt he has ever heard of the stuff), which is why we need oil, nukular, etc to bridge the gap til we get there.

bikermailman on August 1, 2008 at 1:22 PM

Rock on! Go GOP!

Tim Burton on August 1, 2008 at 3:21 PM

In fact, thus far, hydrogen bombs have been the only successful and reliable fusion reactions produced by man.

Well, you can build a Hirsh-Farnsworth fusor in your garage, and quite a few people have. They have various commercial applications.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusor

No one has produced a fusion power plant yet, but that may be only 10 years off now (as opposed to the usual 50). Field-reversed configurations are being funded by Paul Allen, and Bussard’s Polywell concept is an active Navy project. Proponenets of both believe they can deliver a net power system at far less cost than the $20B ITER program, which is the only one most people know about.

That’s ignoring, of course, the more far-fetched ideas such as focus fusion, cold fusion, and hydrino theory, all of which have aspects that run counter to known physics and are therefore generally considered crackpottery.

TallDave on August 1, 2008 at 7:00 PM