Europe lends to make Iter without Japan and the United States
France will propose today in Brussels that the European Union
(EU) lance only the Iter program in Cadarache (Rhone delta),
fault of having been able to find an agreement with Japan on the
engine installation of future of study on thermonuclear fusion. After
tens of years of search, Iter should finally make it possible to
control the fusion of hydrogen, inexhaustible source of energy which
feeds the heart of the Sun.
Fran?ois d' Aubert, minister delegated to Search, sent week last a
letter to his European fellow-members their proposer to double the
French participation in the project, by advancing 20% of the costs of
construction, that is to say 914 million euros. The "consulting
competitiveness" of the European ministers which is held today in
Brussels should normally give his agreement to this new reversal in
the Iter project.
The program could be launched as of November with a restricted
partnership with three, the European Union, China and Russia, even in
the absence of an agreement - always possible - with the United
States, Japan and South Korea.
Since a meeting in Washington in December 2003, the six international
partners of the Iter program were not able to agree on the choice of
the site of the future engine. The European Union, supported by China
and Russia insists that the installation is done close of the already
existing site of Commissariat ? l' ?nergie Atomique (ECA) in
Cadarache whereas the Americans and the South-Koreans are in favour of
an establishment on the Japanese site of Rokkasho-walled.
After many unfruitful negotiations between Europe and Japan during the
first six months of the year, Philippe Busquin, European police chief
with search leaving, had explained in July that the situation was not
far from being blocked. It had then evoked the possibility that Europe
launches only the project. Since, Europe received the confirmation
which China and Russia were always ready to launch out in the
adventure to its sides, even without the other partners. "In this
context of blocking, it is important that Europe shows its assets, its
force and its determination so that the program is done without
wasting more time", specifies Christian Poncet, deputy with the
establishment of Iter in France to the ministry for Search.
Passing from six with only three major actors, the financing of the
project becomes more problematic all the same. Finally, the 4,75
billion euros necessary for the construction of the engine
could be covered to 20% by France, country host of the project, to 40%
by the EU, 10% by China and 10% by Russia. The 20% lacks
would be compensated by economies made thanks to the reduction of the
number of participating countries like by manufacturing costs of
certain parts of the lower engine (if their realization is done for
example in China or Russia instead of Japan or of the United States).
Even if this plan of financing is accepted today by the twenty-five
European ministers at the time of the consulting competitiveness, it
is always possible that South Korea, the United States and even Japan
end up supporting the European proposal and accept that the project is
done in Cadarache rather than with Rokkasho-walled. American president
George W. Bush recalled besides last week in the British review Nature
that Iter remained the first priority of its government in the field
This return of the three "competitor" countries is all the more
desirable as the European project of financing covers currently only
the phase of construction which extends over ten years, but does not
ensure the 5 billion essential additional euros to guarantee
the operation of the installation the twenty following years.