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FPN04-02

Abraham Endorses Japan as ITER Site

January 9, 2004

The United States today, for the first time publicly, backed Japan to host the ITER multi-billion-dollar experimental nuclear fusion reactor instead of France, saying it offered a superior site. The project will either be sited in the French town of Cadarache or the northern Japanese village of Rokkasho-mura.

"I am proud to say today that the United States strongly supports building ITER here in Japan. From a technical standpoint you offer the superior site," US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham told a gathering of Japanese business leaders during a visit to Tokyo. "The location of Rokkasho is superbly situated to receive the large materials needed for ITER. Your technical and engineering skills are known and admired in every corner of the world. What is more, the local community clearly welcomes this project and has always gone out of its way to encourage the siting of ITER in Rokkasho," Abraham said.

A spokesman for the US embassy in Tokyo confirmed it was the first time that Washington had gone on record in support of the Japanese bid. "We feel extremely encouraged by his comment," an official from Japan's science and technology ministry commented. "We will continue to work with other countries so that we can build ITER in Rokkasho-mura."

A French source close to ITER said it would have been better for Abraham to have waited for the completion of ongoing technical studies before commenting saying, "The remarks of the US secretary amount to a questionable way of disrupting the study."

Links to other ITER reports are posted at the Fire web site: http://fire.pppl.gov