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In this work, a nonlinear model is introduced to determine the vertical position of the plasma column in Damavand tokamak. Using this model as a simulator, a nonlinear neural network controller has been designed. In the first stage, the electronic drive and sensory circuits of Damavand tokamak are modified. These circuits can control the vertical position of the plasma column inside the vacuum vessel. Since the vertical position of plasma is an unstable parameter, a direct closed loop system identification algorithm is performed. In the second stage, a nonlinear model is identified for plasma vertical position, based on the multilayer perceptron (MLP) neural network (NN) structure. Estimation of simulator parameters has been performed by back-propagation error algorithm using Levenberg–Marquardt gradient descent optimization technique. The model is verified through simulation of the whole closed loop system using both simulator and actual plant in similar conditions. As the final stage, a MLP neural network controller is designed for simulator model. In the last step, online training is performed to tune the controller parameters. Simulation results justify using of the NN controller for the actual plant.