APS News

US Signs on as Non‑Host Partner for Restructured ITER Project

“The world is counting on us to make ITER a success,” Under Secretary for Science, Department of Energy, Raymond Orbach said at the November signing ceremony for the ITER agreement. Joining Orbach at this ceremony in Paris were representatives of China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the Russian Federation.

The ceremony occurred almost four years after the Bush Administration announced that the US would rejoin the ITER negotiations. The US had withdrawn from participation in ITER during the design phase in 1998 because of concerns about the facility's predicted costs and project management. The project was significantly restructured after the US withdrawal.

The agreement was subject to a 120-day review by Congress as required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. On September 29, 2006, House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) wrote to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, stating his satisfaction with the revised agreement. Boehlert had threatened in 2005 to kill US participation in ITER if a satisfactory funding mechanism was not implemented.

The funding requested for the Office of Science in the Administration's FY 2007 American Competitiveness Initiative alleviated concerns about ITER's financial impact on the domestic fusion program. Under this request, funding would increase 10.9% for the Fusion Energy Sciences Program, which both the House and Senate versions of the FY 2007 DOE appropriations bill would provide (although the Senate bill proposes shifting some funding to a new office of High Energy Density Science).

ITER will be built at Cadarache, France and is scheduled to be completed in 2015. The US, as a non-host partner, will participate in the construction phase at the level of 9.09%. The total value of the US contribution is $1.122 billion. The European Union, as ITER's host, will provide 45.46% of construction phase funding.

Orbach described the signing ceremony as representing “both a conclusion and a beginning. It is the final closure of the negotiations. And, it is the beginning of the ITER International Organization and the construction phase of the ITER Project. It is also the beginning of a commitment to solve the world's energy problem by scientists representing more than half of the world's population.” 

He concluded, “As we move forward to implement this agreement, let us all keep in mind the enormous responsibility we all share. The world is counting on us to make ITER a success. The [DOE] will work with you to achieve that success, to providing to succeeding generations a source of unlimited, environmentally benign, energy. There is no greater contribution to world security and prosperity.”

Courtesy of FYI, the American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News (http://aip.org/fyi).

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Contributing Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff