Fusion Power Associates
2 Professional Drive, Suite 248
Gaithersburg, MD 20879
phone: (301) 258-0545
fax: (301) 975-9869
e-mail: FusionPwrAssoc@aol.com
web: http://fusionpower.org

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ITER Update

February 12, 2004

Government officials from the European Union, Russia, Japan, United States, China and Republic of Korea, were unable to agree on a construction site for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) when they met December 20 in Washington, DC, but expressed hopes that an agreement could be reached in February. Though progress is reportedly being made, the planned resolution meeting is now most likely in March at the earliest.

Officially the delegates stated that both the European site in France and the Japanese site were "excellent" and that more information would be sought before a site was chosen. The ministers requested that both France and Japan answer certain clarifying questions regarding their respective site characteristics. In the case of the French site at Cadarache, the questions reportedly mostly concerned transportation infrastructure required to transport large pieces of equipment to the site. In the case of Japan, the questions reportedly concerned geological issues such as earthquakes.

The delegates also asked the "ITER Team in conjunction with the ITER Parties to conduct a rapid exploration of the advantages of a broader project approach to fusion power." In response to this charge, technical representatives of the Parties' fusion programs met in Germany January 8-9 and again in Japan January 29-30. Reportedly they agreed to propose that, in addition to the ITER device site, a separate site be established as an "ITER scientific center" where ITER data would be analyzed and a capability would be established to operate ITER experiments remotely by computer.

The U.S is reportedly revisiting its site preferences by considering the additional data provided by the European Union and Japan. Meetings were held in Washington between U. S. officials and some members of the U .S. fusion community February 10 (with Japanese officials) and February 11 (with EU officials). A meeting "at the vice ministerial level" is tentatively scheduled later in February, possibly February 21, in an attempt to reach a consensus. If that meeting is successful, the meeting of ministers would take place in March.

News reports of the ongoing ITER saga are posted at http://fire.pppl.gov