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.