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The representatives of the seven ITER Members gathered in Suzhou, China, for the sixth ITER Council.
On 16-17 June, the ITER Council, the Governing Body of the ITER Organization, convened for its sixth meeting. The two-day meeting in Suzhou, China brought together representatives from the seven ITER Members: China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States under the chairmanship of Evgeny Velikhov (Russia).

The meeting opened with a statement from Dr Wan Gang, Minister of Science & Technology of China. Minister Wan welcomed the delegates to Suzhou and underlined China's commitment to the ITER Project, "The Chinese Government gives high importance to ITER and joins hands with the ITER Organization and the other six Members to guarantee the success of the project. ITER will demonstrate to the world that global challenges can be overcome by science and technology."

All Members of the ITER collaboration reiterated their support for the project and commended the progress that has been achieved. "In bringing ITER this far, we have together had to face many daunting challenges. With full mutual understanding, good will and family spirit, we have no doubt that we shall be able to find the best way forward to serve our common objective to secure the complete success of this remarkable project," commented José Manuel Silva Rodríguez, Head of the European Delegation.

ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda gave a detailed presentation of the ITER Organization progress since the last Council meeting. He highlighted the fact that the project is now moving into the construction phase. He commended the strong collaboration between the ITER Domestic Agencies and the ITER Organization that resulted in the detailed papers that were presented to Council. The Director-General pointed out that all Members are now seriously engaged in calls for tender and recognized the steady progress in manufacturing of elements for ITER. "Thanks to tremendous efforts from both the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, about 60 percent of the global Procurement Arrangements for ITER have already been concluded." He noted that construction of the first ITER buildings and the excavation of the Tokamak Pit are expected to start in July 2010.

The ITER Council noted and reviewed reports from its scientific and managerial subsidiary bodies which outlined the progress on subjects such as: the Draft Annual Work Plan for 2011, Financial Audit, the ITER Organization's draft budget for the next years, Export Control, Peaceful Uses and Non-Proliferation, and the Test Blanket Module program. Council approved the annual accounts and balance sheets for 2009.

The ITER Members agreed to hold a Council Meeting in Cadarache, France in the last week of July 2010 when all delegations expect to be in a position to complete discussions on the next steps of the ITER Project.

Prior to the opening of the Council meeting, all delegates took part in the opening ceremony of the ITER and nuclear fusion exhibition.

ITER will be the world's largest experimental fusion facility and is designed to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion power. ITER is also a first-of-a-kind global collaboration. Fusion is the process which powers the sun and the stars. When light atomic nuclei fuse together to form heavier ones, a large amount of energy is released. Fusion research is aimed at developing a safe, limitless and environmentally responsible energy source. The ITER Project is sited at Cadarache in the South of France. Europe will contribute 45 percent of its construction costs, while the other six Members to this joint international venture: China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the US, will each contribute 9 percent.

Photos of the Council Meeting, the Suzhou Exhibition and ITER can be found at:

Read the press release (in English or in French) here...

Further information at:

The opening ceremony of the ITER exhibition in Suzhou.
Prior to the start of the ITER Council meeting in Suzhou, all delegates took part in the opening ceremony of the exhibition on ITER and nuclear fusion. The exhibition, organized by the Chinese Domestic Agency, explains the promise and challenges of fusion as an energy source, concentrating on the contribution of each ITER Member.

A combination of audiovisual displays, models, ITER components and explanatory posters created a stimulating and didactic exhibition. The most popular exhibit was the two-metre tall steel model of ITER whose "plasma" glows ever brighter as the visitor raises the temperature in the vacuum vessel. 

Many thousands of visitors are expected at the exhibition held in the Suzhou Industrial Park.  

The Commissioner of the Japanese Atomic Energy Commission, Mie Oba, with ITER Deputy Director-General Carlos Alejaldre.
This Tuesday, 15 June, the Commissioner of the Japanese Atomic Energy Commission, Mie Oba, visited ITER. Mrs. Oba is an associate professor in the field of foreign relations and international politics at the Tokyo University of Science. She visited the ITER site as part of a round trip taking her to various Swiss and French nuclear facilities such as the Grimsel Test Site in Switzerland, the CEA sites in Cadarache and Valrho, the EPR construction site at Flamanville and the reprocessing facility at La Hague. ITER Deputy Director-General Carlos Alejaldre showed Mrs. Oba around the construction site and spoke with her about the status and scope of the ITER Project.

"The time to embrace a clean energy future is now," says President Obama.
In remarks made during an Oval Office address this week on the BP oil spill, US President Barack Obama spoke with urgency of the need to end America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels. "For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered... And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. The time to embrace a clean energy future is now."

Read the full address on the oil spill and energy here:

Hot off the press: The ITER Annual Report 2009.
The 2009 ITER Organization Annual Report is now available. The year's accomplishments, the status of ITER licensing and construction, organizational milestones, and financial and staffing statistics are all included in the report, which can be downloaded here.

In his foreword, ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda writes: "In 2009 the governments of the ITER Members unanimously maintained their support for the project, in what was a difficult global financial context. Our international collaboration has withstood, and even emerged reinforced thanks to increased expertise at the ITER Organization and improved collaboration with the Domestic Agencies."

"ITER is now poised at the start of construction and installation," declares the Chair of the ITER Council through 31 December 2009, Chris Llewellyn Smith. "The volume will [now] be turned up. The gentle tone of discussion and planning will suddenly be transformed into the roar of excavators and the churning of concrete mixers. It has been a long time coming ..."

For the 642,235 French students who took the Bac examination this week, it will be a long and anxious wait until results are published nationwide on 6 July.
Is it possible to be completely disinterested when engaged in a search for the truth? Can art do without rules? And could you please comment on the chapter in Saint Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica on the spirit versus the letter of the Law?

These, and a couple of others, were the questions asked to 642,235 French high school students last Wednesday during the philosophy examination of the Baccalauréat.

The Baccalauréat, a word derived from the Latin for "laurel crown," was established by Napoleon in 1808. For students completing secondary school, passing the "Bac" gives access to University and higher education. Once reserved to an academic elite (fewer than 100,000 students took the examination in the 1960s) it is now the collective experience of every generation.

A ten day-long examination, the Bac requires preparation as rigorous and complex as that of a military campaign—for both the General Staff in the Ministry of Education and for the foot soldiers in every French lycée.

Choosing the "subject questions" and organizing the operations takes 13 months and costs the French Ministry of Education more than EUR 50 million. Throughout the country, some 160,000 teachers are mobilized to correct the four million examination papers in philosophy, history, languages, literature, mathematics or physics that the candidates have produced.

The Bac provides the media with a basketful of stories: prominent personalities, movie stars and politicians are challenged to take the philosophy test live on the 8 o'clock news; newspapers publish profiles of candidates (the youngest ... the oldest ... the unlucky one trying for the third time ... someone who never took it but managed to succeed in life without ...); the angst and hopes of students ... the Bac is truly a national event that attracts the attention of the whole country.

Among the hundreds of thousands of candidates this year, six are students of the International School in Manosque—and only one "ITER child" among them. Five are French, one is American, and they all took the special "International Option" that enables them to sit some exams in a foreign language.

Like their peers, they will have to wait until Tuesday, 6 July to know whether they have passed or failed. The week between their final exam and the publication of the results will certainly be one the longest in their young lives ...