JAPAN . Nuclear

US energy secretary Spencer Abraham has lent his support to the Japanese bid to become the site of the world’s first experimental commercial scale nuclear fusion reactor, known as ITER, provoking a furious reaction in France whose Cadarache site is the other candidate. During a visit to Tokyo Abraham described Rokkasho-mura, the Japanese candidate, as “the superior site” to host the multi-billion dollar project.

EU research director Phillipe Busquin (Belgium) condemned Abraham’s remarks as “inappropriate and inopportune” while the evaluation process to decide between the two sites is still going on. France has urged the EU to go it alone, saying that Europe must have ITER and, having already committed itself to substantial research costs, is financially capable of handling the project. Japan now has the US and South Korea backing it while Russia and China favour the EU site.