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Also in this issue

  • Six experimental Test Blanket Modules containing lithium will be mounted inside the ITER vacuum vessel to test tritium breeding concepts.

    Tritium: Changing lead into gold

    In order to produce energy from the fusion of light atoms, nature offers a dozen of possible combinations. Only one is accessible in the current state of techn [...]

    Read more

  • HSH Prince Albert II took time to tour the dozens of stands and industrial exhibits of MIIFED-IBF 2016. He is pictured here listening to the explanations provided by ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot and Pierre-Marie Delplanque, from Agence Iter France, on the transport of ITER's largest components.

    Monaco: fusion world capital

    In 2010, 2013 and 2016, a major rendezvous in fusion has gathered researchers, industrialists, and international organizations to the Principality of Monaco. U [...]

    Read more

  • Unloaded, unwrapped, and carefully stored in the Cryostat Workshop, where welding and assembly activities will soon begin, the segments already give us an idea of the size of the ITER machine.

    The ITER cryostat: on your mark, get set ...

    For the past year, the pace of highly exceptional (HEL) component deliveries has been accelerating. Some of the components, such as the electrical transformers [...]

    Read more

  • Reels, de-spoolers, a winding table, impregnation moulds ... little by little the 12,000 m² Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility is being equipped with specialized tooling.

    In the lair of the ring magnets

    ITER's ring-like poloidal field coils are among the largest and heaviest components of the ITER machine. Ranging from 8 to 24 metres in diameter, and from 193 [...]

    Read more

Mag Archives

Conceived in Geneva

On a cold November morning in Geneva, 30 years ago, two men met for the first time. Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, at the head of the world's two superpowers, had much to talk about.

November 1985: the two most powerful men in the world give the necessary political impetus to creating ''the widest practicable'' international cooperation in the domain of fusion. (Click to view larger version...)
November 1985: the two most powerful men in the world give the necessary political impetus to creating ''the widest practicable'' international cooperation in the domain of fusion.
At that moment in history, tension between the Soviet Union and the United States was high and there was a real risk that the Cold War would escalate—something that both men, despite their differences, were determined to avoid.

For the two days of the Geneva Summit (19-20 November 1985), the heads of state discussed reductions in nuclear stockpiles, the threat of a Third World War, and their common desire for lasting peace. "Anuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought," declared the joint statement at the end of the Summit.

The statement also advocated the "widest practicable development of international cooperation" in nuclear fusion in order to obtain a "source of energy, which is essentially inexhaustible, for the benefit of all mankind."

For years, influential members of the fusion community on both sides of great East-West divide had been calling for such a political initiative. "We knew that only a large international collaboration would permit us to build the 'Big Machine' that would demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion energy," remembers Evgeny Velikhov, scientific advisor to Gorbachev and future president of the ITER Council (from 2010 to 2012).

The project was ambitious ... and likely to be expensive. In Geneva, the world's most powerful men had just given the needed political impetus.

An "international collaboration" had been set into motion. Two years later the initiative would have a name: ITER, for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor or, even more simply, "The Way" in Latin.