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FPN04-68

ITER Update

October 28, 2004

A recent high level meeting between officials of the European Union (EU) and Japan failed to reach agreement on a formula for breaking the deadlock over ITER siting. The other ITER Parties (China, Russia, Republic of Korea and the U. S) have been pressuring the EU and Japan to negotiate an agreement on the site on a bilateral basis and to bring that agreement back to the ministers of the six Parties. A meeting of the six Parties at the vice-ministerial level is tentatively scheduled for November 8 but this most recent failure has called into question what can be accomplished at the proposed meeting.

European sources have told Fusion Power Associates that the EU is seriously considering inviting all interested governments to join with them in building ITER in France. One of the potential new partners is India. According to the October 27 issue of the Calcutta newspaper The Telegraph, French foreign minister Michel Barnier raised the issue this week on his first official visit to India. According to the paper, the question of India joining ITER is expected to be on the agenda at a planned November 8 EU-India summit meeting in the Hague. Brazil and Switzerland have also expressed an interest in joining the ITER venture.

The EU Council of Ministers has asked the European Commission to provide them with whatever information is needed to allow them to come to "an appropriate decision" with respect to ITER at their regularly scheduled meeting November 25-26 "with a view to enabling the rapid commencement of the ITER project on the European site in line with the European Council conclusions of March 2004."

U. S. sources told Fusion Power Associates that, absent an EU-Japan agreement on site, the U.S. would continue to back the Japanese site. Furthermore, U. S. government sources noted that should there be a change in administration following the November 2 U. S. presidential election, a new review of U. S. policy towards ITER participation should be expected.

The ITER situation is sure to be a major topic of discussion at the biennial IAEA major world fusion conference, November 1-6 in Portugal.