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Japan cedes ITER project to France


The Asahi Shimbun

MOSCOW-Japan on Tuesday officially abandoned its bid to host the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), an honor that would have cost the nation up to 800 billion yen.

The decision paved the way for Cadarache, France, to be selected the winning site during a ministerial meeting Tuesday in Moscow by the six participants of the project.

Japan, which had been pushing for Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, and the European Union, which backed Cadarache, held talks in recent months to break the deadlock.

In the end, the enormous expense of hosting the ITER project convinced Japan that a secondary role would suffice.

The estimated cost to the host country over the 30-year period is between 600 billion and 800 billion yen. The cost falls to one-fifth of that range for nonhost participants.

In agreeing to abandon its bid, Japan won several concessions in terms of preferential treatment for construction of certain facilities of the ITER project.

Under the terms of the agreement reached Tuesday, Japan will be assured the top spot of the ITER administrative body as well as 20 percent of the estimated 200 full-time research members.

In addition, the EU will contribute half of the approximately 92 billion yen needed to build a remote control experimental facility, simulator and materials development facility in Japan.

Japan will also be awarded contracts for 20 percent of the equipment and facilities of the main ITER reactor, while the Japanese financial burden for that construction will be only 10 percent of the total.

The EU will pay half of the constructions costs of the ITER, with the remaining half covered by the five other participants-Japan, the United States, Russia, China and South Korea.

The ITER is designed to create energy by causing a nuclear fusion reaction by heating deuterium and tritium to temperatures above 100 million degrees.

Construction of the main reactor is expected to take about a decade, and the experimental reactor will operate for about 20 years before a prototype is considered.

Commercialization of a thermonuclear power plant is not expected this century.(IHT/Asahi: June 29,2005)

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