26th ITER Council
ITER Council meets virtually
The Twenty-Sixth Meeting of the ITER Council convened on 17-18 June to assess the latest progress reports and performance metrics of the ITER Project, including preliminary assessments of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time in Council history, the meeting took place by videoconference.
International travel restrictions could not keep the 26th Meeting of the ITER Council from taking place, but they did contribute to modifying the format and the organization of the two-day meeting, which traditionally convenes at ITER Headquarters.
Only three people are in the conference room with ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot: ITER Council Secretary Sachiko Ishizaka (right, hidden); Annegret Janssen, ITER Council Liaison Assistant (left); and Alison Buckett, Document Editor (right).
On the east coast of the United States, participants logged in by videoconference at 6:00 a.m., while in Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo it was the end of the workday. In India, the start of the meeting fell late afternoon; in the European capitals and Moscow the discussions began closer to lunch. For the first time in ITER Council history, Council members—high-level government representatives and experts from each of the ITER Members—carried out their review of ITER Project progress in two three-hour remote sessions, one on each day.
"Thank you very much for this opportunity to meet in these exceptional circumstances ... and for accepting to hold this ITER Council meeting remotely in order to allow the ITER Project to progress steadily in these unexpected and challenging circumstances," said Director-General Bernard Bigot during his opening remarks.
It was the first ITER Council chaired by LUO Delong, from China.
The group commended the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies for the development and rapid deployment of a continuity plan during the global pandemic COVID-19. The plan permitted critical activities related to ITER's closely integrated project schedule to move forward, while ensuring the health and safety of staff and collaborators through rigorous adherence to hygienic measures. To date, there have been no instances of COVID-19 infection on the ITER worksite.
Calling in from all over the globe, ITER Council participants worked through a pre-defined agenda in two three-hour sessions.
Globally, the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies have been able to maintain productivity in oversight, in design activities, and in progress on many schedule-critical activities. However the extended shutdowns in the manufacturing of some key components in affected countries and the slowdown in some assembly activities might have potential consequences for the project schedule. The Council will review a follow-up report at its next meeting in November.
The Council also noted, with appreciation, the number of project achievements since its last meeting, including the completion and delivery of multiple first-of-a-kind components that have been five or more years in fabrication. Project execution towards First Plasma is nearly 70 percent complete.
Read the IC-26 press release in English and in French.
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