Ministers from the seven countries behind the Iter fusion project have reached agreement establishing the organisation that will implement the development.

Representatives from China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States of America signed the agreement, which is expected to come into effect during 2007, effectively launching the fusion project.

The €5 billion Iter programme will develop the world’s largest experimental facility to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power at Cadarache, in the south of France. Europe will contribute roughly half of the costs while the other six parties will contribute equally to the rest.

The agreement initially runs for 35 years with the possibility of extension for up to 10 years longer.

Meanwhile, the EU and Japan have reached an additional agreement to jointly work the design of a high-tech materials testing facility, which will complement research in Iter and set the basis for the construction of a future demonstration fusion power plant (DEMO). The agreement last ten years, and represents about €340 million of European investment. A similar deal has also been signed with South Korea to promote the joint implementation of research and technological development activities to accelerate the development.

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