Last Friday's meeting was the occasion to reiterate at a high level the Members' common effort towards the realization of ITER and to reaffirm the importance of fusion and the role of ITER in the current energy context.
Early on Friday 6 September, as the Ministerial representatives from seven ITER Members converged towards Saint Paul-lez-Durance, the day dawned bright and sunny. Ideal conditions for a historic ITER Council Ministerial-Level Meeting...
In November 2006, following the signature of the ITER Agreement in Paris, Ministers had come together to mark a first, crucial moment in Project history—the signature of the international treaty establishing the legal entity to be responsible for the construction, operation and decommissioning of ITER.
Last week's Ministerial-Level Meeting intervened at another crucial moment. The Project is now in full construction, component fabrication is underway around the world, and the first completed components will be delivered to the site in 2014.
For the seven ITER Members, it was the occasion to reiterate at a high level the common effort towards the realization of ITER and to reaffirm the importance of fusion and the role of ITER in the current energy context.
ITER Director-General Motojima: ''We are happy to show the spectacular construction progress achieved in the past couple of years and would like to express our gratitude for the confidence shown to the ITER team by the Members.''
The meeting was convened at the initiative of Günther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner in charge of Energy and representative of the European Atomic Energy Community. Representing France as Host to the ITER Project was French Minister of Higher Education and Research, Geneviève Fioraso. For both dignitaries, it was their second visit to ITER this year (see Newsline's
report on the inauguration
of the ITER Headquarters in January).
Commissioner Oettinger, Minister Fioraso and ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima were joined by Ministerial-level representatives from each ITER Member (see box below). First on the official program was a site tour that brought the guests within metres of the impressive Seismic Pit where work is underway on the foundations for the Tokamak Complex—the infrastructure that will house the ITER Tokamak.
The Heads of Delegation from the ITER Members were as follows: Jianlin Cao, Vice-Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology (China); Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission (Europe); Ravi Bhushan Grover, Member of the Atomic Energy Commission and Director of the Homi Bhabha National Institute (India); Teru Fukui, Senior Vice-Minister, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Japan); Sung Kwang Yang, Assistant Minister for Future Leading R&D Policy, Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (MSIP) (Korea); Igor Borovkov, Head of Apparatus, Government of the Russian Federation (Russia); Edmund Synakowski, Associate Director for Fusion Energy Sciences, Office of Science, Department of Energy (USA)
Before the official photograph, Commissioner Oettinger welcomed all the participants. "I think it is important to hold this type of high-level meeting to talk about the problems we encounter and discuss our common challenges," he affirmed.
"We are so excited to have so many important guests today," declared ITER Director-General Motojima to the 40 or so members of the press that had joined the tour. "We are happy to show the spectacular construction progress achieved in the past couple of years and would like to express our gratitude for the confidence shown to the Unique ITER team by the Members."
The ITER Council Ministerial-Level Meeting was opened by Council Chair Hideyuki Takatsu. Then, in accordance with the rules of procedure of the Council, Commissioner Oettinger was elected as Chair for the duration of the meeting. In his opening address, he told the Members that he was "...glad to note that important steps have been taken towards strengthening the working relations between the ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies."
On behalf of the Host State, Minister Fioraso also delivered words of welcome to the assembly, including many journalists, stressing that for France, "ITER represents a unique and outstanding project ... the broadest international cooperation for research ever implemented."
All photos © ITER-Organization - Gérard Lesénéchal
Read more on the outcome of the Ministerial-Level Meeting in the press release (English or French).
See the photo gallery of the event here.
Watch a video of the Ministerial-Level Meeting here.