Iran and France have agreed to work on an international nuclear fusion project, Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), told Fars news agency on 12 July. “Based on the general understanding between Iran and France the two countries are going to cooperate in setting up Iran's first thermonuclear experimental reactor that is expected to produce 500MWe,” he said. 

AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi, earlier in July, visited the headquarters in southern France of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project and Iranian media quoted officials as saying that there was a “general agreement” for cooperation on ITER.

However, in an interview with Reuters, ITER Director General Bernard Bigot said the purpose of the visit had been just to understand the project. “After that they told us they had a long-standing interest in fusion and they would like to consider how to join the ITER project, but clearly not as a full member,” he said.

Full members provide experienced engineers and scientists and substantial financial contributions. “They felt that full membership is not best for them, but consider association in some specific areas or fields where they can contribute. Now it’s up to them to make up their mind,” Bigot said.

Any application would have to be approved unanimously by the seven full members of the ITER organisation – Europe, the USA, China, India, Japan, Russia and South Korea – and the process would take at least six months. Iran is already studying the development of nuclear fusion and has smaller laboratory tokamak machines.

On 17 July, Salehi said he appreciated French officials at ITER   for receiving Iranian officials properly, and he announced the appointment of Seyyed Mehdi Babazadegan as the AEOI's representative at this project.