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Cablegate: Iter Joint Implementation Agreement for $10 Billion Fusion

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Lucia A Keegan 11/30/2006 10:38:10 AM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan

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UNCLAS PARIS 07581

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 007581

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WHITE HOUSE FOR OSTP AND CEQ; DEPT FOR G, STAS, OES, IO, EUR; DOE
FOR OFFICE OF SCIENCE; EMBASSIES FOR SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG TRGY SENV KPAO FR
SUBJECT: ITER JOINT IMPLEMENTATION AGREEMENT FOR $10 BILLION FUSION
EXPERIMENT SIGNED IN PARIS, NOVEMBER 21, 2006

1. Summary: On November 21, representatives of the European Union,
China, Russia, India, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the United
States signed the agreement creating the ITER international
organization charged with building, operating and dismantling, at a
cost of some $10 billion, a first-of-its-kind fusion science
project. Essentially, ITER's purpose is to demonstrate the power of
fusion as a future energy source. The project will be built in
Cadarache in France's south. Operations should begin by 2015,
continue for some 20-25 years, and take several years to dismantle.
Following the signing, the ITER parties also convened at the first
interim ITER Council Meeting to activate the interim, provisional
ITER organization while the Joint Implementation Agreement is
ratified by the Japanese Diet. (DOE had transmitted to Congress in
May 2006 the final initialed text to satisfy the 120-day review
period required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.) Below are
included background on ITER, highlights of the signing ceremony, and
local press reaction. End Summary.

------------------------
ITER's Background
------------------------

2. The ITER experiment is designed to demonstrate the technological
feasibility of fusion energy - magnetic confinement of high
temperature plasma, the power of the sun on earth - for peaceful
purposes. The research, if successful, should provide the know-how
to enable the building of a prototype power plant based on fusion
energy. Although ITER was first conceived in the 1980's, an
acceptable engineering design was only produced in 2001. Early
collaboration on ITER began between the then Soviet Union, the U.S.,
Europe (through EURATOM), and Japan. In 2003, the People's Republic
of China and the Republic of Korea joined project talks and in 2005,
India joined the group of interested parties.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Attractions of fusion as an energy source
--------------------------------------------- ----

3. The key advantages of successful fusion would be:

- It could provide a large-scale energy source with basic fuels of
lithium, the most abundant element on earth, and deuterium, found in
sea water.

- Environmentally benign - no long-lived radioactivity, or CO2
emissions.

-Day-to-day operation of a fusion power station would not require
the transport of radioactive materials. The plant itself would not
be subject to 'meltdown' or 'runaway reactions.'

(More about ITER can be found at 'www.ITER.org.')

--------------------------------------------- -----
Signing - Before French President Chirac
--------------------------------------------- -----

4. The signing that occurred on November 21 of the ITER Joint
Implementation Agreement permits the establishment of the ITER
international organization (following ratification by Japan's Diet,
a process expected to take several months). The ITER international
organization will be responsible for and technically oversee all
aspects of the project, from application of construction licenses
from French nuclear authorities through hardware procurements,
mostly provided 'in-kind' by the Parties. It will manage the
operation of the experiment and finally decommissioning and
dismantlement. ITER Parties will send engineers and scientists to
participate in each phase of the project.

5. For the United States, Dr. Raymond Orbach, DOE Under Secretary
for Science, signed the ITER joint implementation agreement. Other
senior U.S. officials attending the signing ceremony included U.S.
Ambassador to France, Craig Roberts Stapleton, and Dr. George
Atkinson, Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State.
Signers for other Parties included: Vladimir Travin, Deputy Head of
the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom), Russia; Takeshi Iwaya,
Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan; Xu Guanhua, Minister of
Science and Technology, PRC; Woo Sik Kim, Vice Prime Minister,
Ministry of Science and Technology, Korea; Anil Kakodhar, Secretary
to the Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy; and Janez
Potocnik, European Commissioner for Science and Research. The
signing ceremony took place before French President Jacques Chirac
and Jose Manuel Barroso, President European Commission.

--------------------------------------------- --
Remarks - A truly international project
--------------------------------------------- --

6. In his opening remarks, President Chirac highlighted the
international nature of the project: "Exceptional for its
international scale: the unprecedented association of seven major
partners from the North and South...." He also put the prospects
for the project in the context of the need to find clean energy
technologies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. He noted, "We
are duty bound by the stakes. If nothing changes, humanity will
have consumed in two hundred years most of the fossil resources
accumulated over hundreds of millions of years, triggering at the
same time a climatic upheaval. The depletion of these resources and
action to combat global warming call for a revolution in our methods
of production and consumption." Importantly, Chirac also committed
France to the success of ITER.

7. The Head of the U.S. Delegation, Dr. Orbach, stressed the
importance of ITER to the United States in remarks following the
signing. He said, "ITER is a central component of President Bush's
Advanced Energy Initiative to develop abundant, environmentally
benign, and cost effective energy sources. ... The President's
initiative in joining ITER allows the United States to share, as
well as to contribute to, the combined experience and knowledge that
will result from the design, construction and operation of this
vital project." He emphasized that the United States will work to
achieve the success of ITER, "to provide succeeding generations a
source of unlimited environmentally benign energy. There is no
greater contribution to world security and prosperity...." Finally,
Dr. Orbach also underscored that ITER is "the first stand alone,
truly international, large-scale scientific research effort in the
history of the world. It will serve as a model for future
collaborative large scale science projects." This last point was
made repeatedly by Dr. Orbach in his discussions with other
delegations and the press.

-------------------
Media Reaction
-------------------

8. Print media reports surrounding the signing of the ITER project
were largely factual and tended to emphasize that the signing
represents the culmination of "twenty years of diplomatic, financial
and scientific negotiations" (left-of-center daily Le Monde
11/22/06). The majority of the print press reports stressed the
economic advantages for France: "3000 indirect and direct jobs in
the region will be created" (Agence France Presse). For left-wing
daily Liberation: "France's leading role in ITER is a result of the
Old Continent's scientific preeminence on the subject [of nuclear
energy]... but translates into a significant financial commitment,
reinforced by the choice of Cadarache." An Associated Press wire
report in French quoted Under Secretary Orbach as saying that "this
energy represents a hope for the world." On November 22,
right-of-center daily Le Figaro cast doubts about the involvement of
countries such as India (that had not signed the NPT) in a project
where "the resulting technology will belong to all of the partners."


9. Comment: As Dr. Orbach mentioned in his presentation, the
signing ceremony for ITER represented not only the final closure of
long and sometimes difficult negotiations, but also the beginning of
the ITER International Organization and the construction phase of
the ITER project. It also represents an enormous commitment to
solve the world's energy problem by scientists representing more
than half the world's population. Embassy Paris greatly appreciated
the efforts by the U.S. Delegation in participating in media
outreach during their stay. We also appreciate Dr. Orbach taking
time while in Paris for the signing to give a presentation on the
'U.S. Advanced Energy Initiative: Transformational Energy and
Environmental Science" which was warmly received by a large and
diverse French audience. End Comment.

STAPLETON

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