"ITER represents the hope of the world," DOE Office
of Science Director Ray Orbach said in a conference call from Brussels
this morning announcing the initialing of an international agreement
to construct ITER. Congress will now have 120 days to review the Joint
Implementation Agreement for this fusion energy project.
If all goes as planned, the seven ITER Parties (European Union, Japan,
the People's Republic of China, India, the Republic of Korea, the Russian
Federation, and the U.S.) will sign the final agreement on November
29, 2006. Construction in Cadarache, France will start in 2007, and
is expected to last eight years.
In his remarks at the ITER ceremony, Orbach said:
"In January 2003, President Bush announced that the
United States would join the multilateral negotiations for the construction
and operation of ITER, and last summer our Congress indicated in the
Energy Policy Act of 2005 their support for this endeavor and the
process by which the United States Government may formally accept
the text of the ITER agreement. Finally, in his State of the Union
Address to the American people this year, President Bush reaffirmed
his support for basic research and highlighted his belief that research
in methods of harnessing clean energy has a leading role in global
"Today is a momentous occasion in the history of science.
We not only mark the conclusion of years of negotiations and collaborative
planning amongst the ITER parties, we are also on the verge of the
real work of ITER: to demonstrate the scientific and technological
feasibility of fusion in a facility that for the first time will be
able to produce a sustained, burning plasma, much like that needed
for a full-scale fusion power plant."
During the conference, Orbach briefly described ITER's history, noting
that it was first discussed in 1985 by the U.S. and U.S.S.R. The negotiations
leading to the initialing agreement took well over three years, driven
by the realization that a project of this size and expense must be international
in scope. The seven parties represent more than half of the world's
ITER was the top priority in the twenty-year facilities plan released
by the Office of Science in November 2003 (see
http://www.aip.org/fyi/2003/150.html.) Under the agreement initialed
today, the U.S. will provide $1.1 billion (a hard cap). Eighty percent
of this contribution will be in-kind, with the remainder being U.S.
project personnel and cash. The U.S. will also provide 13% of the operating
costs, a somewhat higher figure than other parties, designed, Orbach
stated, to provide extra recognition of our role. ITER operations are
to occur in two ten-year periods.
Congress has already authorized the ITER program through the Energy
Policy Act of 2005. The Department of Energy has kept Congress informed
about the progress of the negotiations. Pictures of the Brussels' ceremony
and other information about ITER may be viewed at www.science.doe.gov
Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics