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September 22, 1998
U.S. Signs ITER Extension
The U.S. today ended months of speculation and negotiations with Congress (FPN98-21, 22, 23, 26) by signing an agreement extending by one year (from July 22, 1998) "United States support for international fusion collaboration through the International Thermonucear Experimental Reactor (ITER). The agreement was signed by U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson in Vienna, Austria at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Agreement was signed in the presence of representatives from Russia, Japan, the European Union and the IAEA.
Richardson said, "Over the past eleven years of ITER cooperation, we have made significant advances in physics research, engineering design and technology development. Supporting the ITER Agreement is the best way for the United States and our international partners to continue to benefit from these past accomplishments and collaborations." In a press release, the DOE said, "An extension of the current Agreement is needed to complete research and development of sophisticated technologies that could be used in the experimental reactor should the partners decide to build it in the future."
The European Union, Japan and Russia had previously signed a three year extension (FPN98-21) and were waiting to see whether the U.S. would sign in the face of Congressional opposition (FPN98-26). The DOE press release indicated, "Secretary Richardson discussed this issue with Congressman Joseph McDade, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, prior to releasing the agreement." In signing only a one year extension, DOE noted, "This agreement is not a commitment to fund or support construction of any device." Instead, DOE indicated it was their intent "to negotiate a new agreement on international collaboration on fusion science" during the one year extension.