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Global Studies Focus On Nuclear Energy From Fusion

UN atomic agency signs agreement to enhance fusion research

13 October 2008 – The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today joined forces with a global research consortium to enhance studies into fusion, a type of nuclear energy generated by merging light atoms.

The IAEA signed an agreement in Geneva with the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) Organization to bolster ties between the two bodies.

When two light atoms collide at high speed, they fuse into a heavier nucleus and release energy. Such reactions generate create the massive amounts of energy produced by the sun and other stars.

Research on fusion – ultimately aimed at creating electric power plants – is still in a preliminary stage.

The United States, the European Union (EU), Japan, Russia, India, and the Republic of Korea partnered to create the ITER, which aims to demonstrate how fusion could be used to generate electrical power. A research facility – or a tokamak, where strong magnetic fields confine a doughnut-shaped fusion plasma – is set to be constructed in southern France.

“ITER is a clear example of how a large international project can be successfully organized,” said Yury Sokolov, Deputy Director General of the IAEA.

Under the new arrangement, the two agencies will exchange information on the potential application of fusion energy and will collaborate on training programmes and conferences regarding fusion safety and security.

Today’s agreement was signed on the opening day of the IAEA’s 22nd Fusion Energy Conference.

“Efforts must be pursued to associate developing countries to scientific cooperative arrangements and to facilitate technology transfers,” said Jan Beagle, Deputy Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva, said at the start of the six-day event.

“Most importantly, we must strive to stimulate research and scientific knowledge, to build capacity, in the least developed countries so that developing-country experience can become a greater part of global scientific collaboration.”


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