During its tenth meeting in Washington D.C. the ITER Council acknowledged the current rate of progress towards ITER construction and licensing, but stressed that reported slippages in the project schedule need rapid correction. The 20-21 June meeting brought together representatives from all the seven ITER members – China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States.

Progress made included completion of the Tokamak Complex seismic pit, as all 493 anti-seismic bearings have now been successfully installed at the site in Cadarache, France. The ITER Organisation also reported that it had received official notifcation from the French nuclear regulatory authority, ASN, that after an 18 month-examination and taking into account all recommendations made during the examination process the ITER Organsation proposal on the operational conditions and the design of ITER fulfilled the expected safety requirements at this stage of the licensing process. In the next weeks, the ASN will transmit to the French government the draft decree that authorises the creation of the ITER facility. This is a major milestone in the ITER licensing process.

But the Council expressed concern over delays in the manufacturing of some major components such as the vacuum vessel. In response the ITER Organisation presented measures to prevent further slippage and reported that some of these measures have already begun implementation. Several technical decisions have been made to reinforce the ITER project’s ability to stay on schedule. Progress has been made in qualifying high performance superconductors for ITER’s central solenoid and in its manufacture and testing at the SULTAN facility in Switzerland.