EU And Japan’s ‘Privileged Partnership’ Outlined In ITER Accord

The European Commission (EC) has announced details of the agreement reached
earlier today (28.6.2005) that will see the International Thermonuclear Experimental
Reactor (ITER) project based at the EU candidate site of Cadarache, France.

Although Japan lost its bid to site ITER at its candidate site, in Rokkasho,
the EU and Japan will cooperate in what the EU said will be a “privileged
partnership”. Highlights of the agreement are:

- Japan will provide high-tech components corresponding to 20% of the total
procurements for ITER construction;

- The EU will also make contributions to other (so-called Broader Approach)
projects in cash and in kind;

- The EU will support a “suitable Japanese candidate” as director-general of
the planned ITER organisation and Japan will have the right to supply “more
than a proportional share” of the organisation’s staff;

- Some ITER headquarters functions, including meetings of the ITER council,
could be based in Japan;

- If, at a later phase of the project, there is an international agreement
to build a demonstration reactor, the EU would support Japan’s candidacy to
host it;

- For the EU, a new organisation will be established in Spain through which
contributions (in cash and in kind) will be provided to the ITER
organisation.

The ITER project involves the construction of an experimental fusion reactor
to assess the feasibility of fusion energy as an energy source and,
consequently, the feasibility of constructing a subsequent demonstration
reactor – possibly with commercial fusion reactors to follow.

ITER spokesman Bill Spears described the project as “a key step between
physics and implementation”. He told NucNet that if ITER proves viable, many
countries may want to build their own demonstration reactor. Mr Spears said
that if, as the EU indicated, there is an international agreement to build
such a unit, Japan would likely host it.

Meanwhile, the six ITER parties will also share the estimated 4.57 billion
euro (EUR) construction cost at Cadarache, with the EU and France
contributing 50% and the other parties 10% each. Operation costs are expected
to total about another EUR 5 billion. The total cost will be spread over 30
years – 10 years for construction and 20 years of operation.

The director-general of Foratom, the trade association of the European
nuclear industry, Dr Peter Haug, said: “This will provide a major boost for
the European nuclear energy industry and is well-earned recognition of its
excellent research credentials.”

Dr Haug, who is also secretary-general of the European Nuclear Society,
added that the decision “shows that nuclear energy remains an important
energy option and sends out a positive signal that the nuclear industry
offers talented young people the opportunity to pursue a challenging and
worthwhile career in a sector that is at the cutting edge of modern
technology”.

Of the six ITER parties, the EU, Russia and China had favoured basing the
project at Cadarache while Japan, the US and South Korea had favoured
Rokkasho.

Negotiations had been deadlocked over the siting since December 2003,
preventing progress on technical aspects of the project. But in early 2005
the EU insisted that, if necessary, it could build the ITER reactor in France
even without the support of the other parties. In April 2005 the EU and Japan
agreed to accelerate talks to reach an agreement.

In announcing today’s decision at a meeting of the six parties in Moscow,
the EC said: “This agreement heralds the end of a deadlock between two
alternative sites for the reactor and is an important milestone in the move
towards establishing fusion as a sustainable source of energy production.

“Now that this issue has been resolved, the technical work can be carried
out to finalise the agreement. It is hoped that it will be possible for all
parties to initial the text of the agreement by the end of this year, thereby
allowing for the start of construction by the end of 2005.”

Zdroj: NucNet

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