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A note from Paris

-Kaname Ikeda, ITER Director-General

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The keystone of the ITER project is its collaborative nature. The seven Members have each agreed to build a part of the machine. Agreeing on a schedule for delivery of each part is thus key to the success of the project. We call this our 'integrated schedule' and, along with technical scope and cost, it is one of the three pillars of our overall Baseline. Finalizing this integrated schedule has been the focus of discussion between Members since the last ITER Council. All Members need to back the schedule before we can move forward with confidence to the construction of ITER.

At the last ITER Council meeting in November, certain Members found the schedule too risky to commit to, especially for what we call the 'critical path' items. Since then, the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies have made tremendous efforts to identify and mitigate the risk factors in the schedule.

In recognition of this collective effort, and of the urgency of getting the Baseline approved as soon as possible, the IC Chair, Academician Velikhov called for an ad-hoc meeting of senior representatives from all seven Members this week in Paris to review progress made since November, and to prepare a possible consensus before the next ITER Council meeting in June.

During this two-day meeting, the schedule and its improved risk mitigation measures were presented by the ITER Organization. The Members were pleased to note the progress made, and gave us their full support to move ahead. The next step will be to present the improved schedule to the Management Advisory Committee (MAC), which will hold an exceptional meeting on 10-11 March.

Throughout this meeting, I was pleased to observe a very cooperative atmosphere among all parties towards the establishment of the finalized Baseline at the June Council this year. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all our colleagues for their effort so far, and encourage them to see the process through to the end.

Collaboratively, we are setting the stage for the way forward for the ITER project. Bearing in mind that this is happening against the background of severe financial crisis worldwide, we are grateful that the ITER Members have remained unwavering in their support. Their hopes are on us.

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