These past weeks, with four top-level meetings in a row, our Organization is once again passing through an extremely intense phase. All of us have been heavily engaged in preparing high-level documents and presentations for the advisory boards and for the fifth ITER Council that will meet on 18-19 November — so much so that we overlooked a minor but nonetheless historic milestone: our second anniversary.
It was on 24 October, 2007 that the ITER Organization formally entered into force and that a small team of 150 people raised its glass to celebrate the "start of a unique science adventure". Since that date we have grown - we are now more than 400 people - and I am not exaggerating when I say that we have achieved a lot.
We have signed off on 28 Procurement Arrangements for major machine components, covering one-third of the total in-kind contributions for the project adding up to EUR 1.5 billion. After some "teething pains", a full suite of performance measurement systems and tools is in place today that will help us to steer this big ship called ITER.
As we are still looking into the feasibility of the overall project schedule, we have nearly finalized the 2009 Project Baseline documentation built from the extensive review of the 2001 ITER design. This exercise translated into a huge amount of work, and the last six months have been brutally intense for all of us. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who contributed to this great team effort.
This project has come a long way and I am proud to say that ITER no longer only exists on paper - ITER is tangible! With prototypes undergoing endurance and heat tests, Domestic Agencies signing their first contracts with industrial suppliers, and facilities under construction for the production and winding of the ITER magnets in China, Japan and Russia, we have definitely moved on to the manufacturing era.
As I look out of my office window here in the Headquarters Building that was inaugurated almost a year ago on 20 November, I can see the ITER construction site. It used to be a forest; more than two million cubic metres of earth were moved to level the 40 hectare platform for ITER, a platform that was immaculately prepared and delivered on schedule by our partner Agence ITER France. Also, the 100 kilometre road between the ITER site and the port in Fos sur Mer is almost ready for the arrival of the first components. It is now up to us, the ITER Organization and the seven Members, to bring the platform to life and start the actual construction of ITER.
With ITER, we have established a completely new model for international collaboration and I'd like to repeat the words I spoke two years ago: "It remains our challenge to show that outstanding talent coming from many different nationalities can fuse to create a truly dynamic workforce." return to Newsline #105