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Of Interest

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ITER Director speaks to EUROfusion

For the August edition of Fusion In Europe, ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot was asked to comment on the "decisive and honest" piece that he penned for the scientific journal Nature on 9 June. Mr Bigot also discusses the present status of ITER, reflects on the changes he has implemented since he took up his position in March and addresses the project's most pressing challenges. Excerpts:

''ITER is a complex project and needs to be explained to the public,'' says ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot (right) in an EUROfusion interview published this month. ''When you explain [...] you have to do it with absolute honesty. Honesty is in my nature, and as Director-General of the ITER Organization it is also my duty.'' (Click to view larger version...)
''ITER is a complex project and needs to be explained to the public,'' says ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot (right) in an EUROfusion interview published this month. ''When you explain [...] you have to do it with absolute honesty. Honesty is in my nature, and as Director-General of the ITER Organization it is also my duty.''
What motivated you to write such a decisive and honest statement about ITER's current status in the magazine Nature?

I was asked to contribute a comment on the present status of ITER. I am glad you find this piece "decisive and honest." That is what I intended. It is very important for me to respond to media requests. ITER is a complex project and needs to be explained to the public. When you explain, when you try to share your convictions and pre-occupations, you have to do it with absolute honesty. Honesty is in my nature, and as Director-General of the ITER Organization it is also my duty.

Your academic and political work for the past 20 years has always been close to the realization of ITER. When you started as new ITER Director-General, were you fully aware of all the struggles you would have to face?

I was aware of the difficulties the project was facing. But I would not use the word "struggle," which is a bit too harsh. Let's say that certain situations require more dialogue and concertation ...

We need now to foster an atmosphere in which all actors feel personally responsible for the project, not just for their area of specific competence. All Domestic Agency heads share this vision. Now, the day-to-day reality is always slightly different from what you anticipate. Old habits die hard ...

In your Nature article we learned about the building of integrated teams as one of your first steps. How many teams are to be built and what will be their specific domains?

The creation of integrated teams, which we call "Project Teams," stems from the necessity to increase the efficiency in the management of critical technical issues. They should deliver improved communication, reduced paperwork, and elimination in the duplication of procedures and swift decision-making. Within their technical jurisdiction, they integrate all players — Central Team, Domestic Agencies and, if needed, representatives of industry — into a cohesive decision-making body. The first Project Team for Buildings, Infrastructure and Power Supplies (BIPS) is now operational. It brings together 38 staff from the European Domestic Agency for ITER and 27 from the ITER Organization Central Team. A Vacuum Project Team has also been established and will be followed by another for cryogenics. Only a small number of in-kind procurement items will require the establishment of a dedicated Project Team because of specific difficulties or complexity.

Continue reading the interview on the EUROfusion website.



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