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Gaithersburg, MD 20879
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July 23, 1998
ITER Extension Agreement
The 6-year ITER agreement, under which the European Union, Japan, Russia and the United States have been collaborating on the design of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), expired on July 21. The European Union, Japan and Russia had all signed a three year extension of the agreement prior to its expiration. Although the United States had for several months been prepared to sign the extension agreement, the U. S. Department of Energy, bowing to Congressional pressure (See FPN98-17, 19 and 20), withdrew its support and failed to sign the extension before its expiration.
The ITER Council (IC), the governing body of ITER, met in Vienna on July 22-23. At that meeting the officials representing the four Parties agreed that they would keep working together on a voluntary basis on all aspects of the ITER activity, including the activities of the Joint Central Team and Home Teams.
The U.S. delegation indicated that the DOE was attempting to secure the blessing of Congress to sign the extension and hoped to do so at a later date. The IC expressed the hope that the U. S. would sign before October. The Parties to the agreement are not sure whether the agreement can be extended simply at a later date since it has expired. The Parties are looking into the legal aspects of the matter.