Engine ITER with the forceps

Europe could build the machine with nuclear fusion without the
United States nor Japan.

At the time of her voyage in China, Jacques Chirac underlined the
determination of France to accomodate the engine with nuclear fusion
ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), with which
the physicists hope to control the energy of stars.

France was "at the origin of great technological adventures" like the
ARIANE rocket, the Airbus plane or the TGV, it recalled its hosts,
adding: "This dynamism is not lunatic, with for example program ITER
of energy production by the fusion of the atoms."

This plea pro domo has taken part of the intense activity deployed for
a few weeks by the French authorities to try to take down the first
prize: the construction of the experimental engine in Cadarache (Rhone
delta). A mobilization on the most level of the State, which slices
with the inertia expressed, in the past, on a file however considered
as a technological and industrial stake major.

Nearly twenty years after its outline (the idea was launched from
there by Mikha?l Gorbatchev at the time of the perestroika) and after
grinds bounces - the withdrawal of the United States of the
international round table in 1999, their return to the sides of China
in 2003, the Franco-Spanish quarrel on the choice of the site
suggested by Europe, the current competition between the site of
Cadarache and that of Rokkasho-Walled in Japan -, project ITER touches
perhaps finally with the goal.


It is in any case the conviction of Fran?ois d' Aubert. The
minister delegated to the search, which visited the installations of
Cadarache lately, ensures that the project is "in good way". "the
business was released", affirms it.

Reason of this optimism? Fran?ois d' Aubert obtained the green light
of Matignon to propose that France doubles its setting in the
financing of the construction of ITER, quantified to 4,57 billion
euros. Provided that Europe decides without more delaying to
establish the engine in Cadarache. "France, which assumed 457 million
euros in the preliminary draft, is ready to finance up to 20 %
of the cost of construction, that is to say 914 million euros,
writes it in a mail addressed during September to the president
Dutchwoman of the Council of the European Union. This major additional
effort translates the confidence of the French government in the
capacity of the European Union to launching without delay the decision
to build ITER in Cadarache."

The French initiative aims in fact to leave the dead end in which, for
reasons more political than scientific or economic, have been locked
up for soon a year the international partners of ITER. Those were
divided into two blocks. On a side, European Union, Russia and China,
favorable to the site of Cadarache. Other, the United States, Japan
and South Korea, whose preference goes to Rokkasho-Walled. Even if
they never acknowledged it explicitly, the United States, by pushing
the Japanese candidature, wanted to make pay in France its refusal to
take part in the coalition engaged in the war of Iraq. In spite of its
efforts, the French diplomacy did not succeed in making reconsider
America its decision.

From where the gamble tried by the French government. A blow which is
actually with double relaxation. Initially, Europe would decide to
launch out in the adventure of ITER with Russia and China, but without
the United States, Japan nor Korea of the South This decision, thinks
Mr. d' Aubert, will be taken at the time of next Conseil
competitiveness European, envisaged on November 25 in Brussels.


But the French hope well that in the second time the United
States, Japan and South Korea, which do not plan to finance alternate
machine, would return to the fold. A scenario which rests on
pr?d?cent CERN of Geneva, where the Americans, after having decided
to build their own particle accelerator, finally gave up it, for
reasons of cost, and joined to Europeans to finance the Broad
High-energy particle Collider (LHC). Didn't George W. Bush declare, in
British review Nature, that ITER constituted a "priority" for the
American department with energy (the World of September 17)? The final
rallying of all the partners all the more desirable as for the
construction of the machine, spread out over ten years, it will be
necessary to pay its operation, would be estimated at 4,8 billion
euros over twenty years.

The part however is not gained yet. The last Council competitiveness
of the European Union, which was held on September 24, expressed
certainly his "firm support" for the candidature of Cadarache. He
moreover asked the Commission to examine the various scenarios, with
their financial implications. And it hopes to arrive at "a suitable
decision in November". But it as reaffirmed as search on fusion
required an international co-operation "on the broadest possible
basis", implying "as many partners as possible". The European Union
thus did not give up arriving to a consensual solution.

Japan, for its part, reacted curtly to the remarks of Mr. d' Aubert:
"We carried out until now of the discussions to six partners, points
out a Japanese senior official. It is regrettable that France declares
that project ITER will be made without a collegial decision being
made." Suspense is perhaps not finished.

Pierre Hir

Local communities put at contribution

If Europe decides to occur from the United States, Japan and
South Korea to build ITER, 30 % of the financing missing (10 % per
isolated country) would be compensated by the rise of the French
contribution, the economies "related to the modification of certain
technological choices", of the additional contributions of certain
European countries (Italy and Spain would be laid out there), finally,
the participation in the round table of "associated partners", like
Brazil, India and Switzerland. With the load of the Community budget
an unchanged quota of 40 % would remain.

France, except its contribution to the Community budget (with
height of 16 %), up to now did not enter only one euro with the
national budget for ITER. The 457 million euros promised in the
initial scenario must be paid by the local authorities of area
PACA. For the 457 million euros which it proposes to
add, the government plans to solicit, approximately for half, the same
local communities.