Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Canadian Nuclear Fusion Sale to Iran under Fire

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Canadian Nuclear Fusion Sale to Iran under Fire

Article excerpt

Canadian Nuclear Fusion Sale to Iran Under Fire

Both the American government and Canadian parliamentary opposition party members have expressed alarm over the proposed sale of a $50 million Tokamak fusion reactor to Iran. The reactor was sold by the Canadian Center for Fusion Magnetics (CCFM), a publicly funded research firm based in Montreal. The Center has defended the sale, saying that the technology will be used for peaceful purposes by the Iranians.

Although the sale has not yet been finalized, the U.S. government has expressed concern that the reactor can also be used for military purposes and has asked Ottawa to "closely examine" the deal because, according to an unnamed State Department official quoted by the National Post, "there is still a possibility of dual use."

The concern is echoed by Reform Party defense critic Art Hanger. Hanger's party, the official parliamentary opposition in Canada, is pressuring the government to reject the Center's application for an export permit.

The Center had reportedly advertised the reactor on its Web site, but did not receive any offers apart from the Iranian one.

The reactor itself was invented by the Russians in the 1950s, but the Canadian research center has spent an estimated $250 million of public funds in developing the technology. The sale comes as the Center is winding down its operations after the Atomic Energy Control Board decided to focus exclusively on the CANDU fission reactor. This notwithstanding the fact that fusion technology is seen by many experts in the field as the energy of the future. …

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