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Kaname Ikeda, ITER Director-General
Remarkable progress has been made regarding the construction of ITER: as everybody can see, the site preparations are in full swing and we will soon be able to move into our offices on site.

It was in last November, at the first ITER Council, that the ITER Project Specification based on a comprehensive design review was provisionally approved. Since then a tremendous amount of work has been coordinated and executed in order to provide a mature design for ITER that reflects the issues raised by the Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) and, secondly, to prepare a reliable schedule and resource estimate. To meet these essential commitments a truly joint effort from all the ITER staff, both in the IO and the Domestic Agencies was required.

The result of this joint effort was the broad support from the STAC last week to go ahead with the proposed solutions for the major design issues (see article in this issue). We therefore hope that these suggestions will find approval at the next ITER Council meeting in June. In preparation for the ITER Council we are also finalizing the integrated project schedule and the resource estimate.

In parallel with these activities, the IO Accounts for 2007 will soon be audited by the newly appointed Financial Auditing Board. IO was also requested by the Council to provide a quarterly financial report starting this year. This is yet another challenge for our administration to prove accountability and efficiency.

It is important that our progress is well understood and supported by all seven ITER Members. This was why I recently visited Japan, India and China to explain what we are doing to the DAs and to listen to their comments. It was encouraging that my visit was well received and to get confirmation of their firm commitment to ITER.

The direct way is not always the fastest, an old Chinese saying goes. Defining the design for ITER, the next big step on the way to fusion power, took several iterations as well. But now we seem to have arrived at the point where the technical baseline design can be accepted at the next Council meeting.

At its third meeting last week, the Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) expressed the view "...that IO is ready with all elements of an optimized reference design and can proceed with the task of finalizing the Overall Project Cost and Overall Project Schedule documents for the STAC, MAC and Council meetings in May and respectively June this year."

At their last meeting in November 2007 the STAC members had identified a number of high priority technical issues that could have led to risks in the performance of ITER, such as the control of Edge Localized Modes (ELMs), the vertical stability and shaping of the plasma, the loads on the Vacuum Vessel and the Coil Cold Testing. The IO, together with the Domestic Agencies, therefore set up 13 working groups to analyze these issues and, where necessary, to identify design improvements. In less than four months members of the IO, the DAs, the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) and participants from many fusion laboratories around the world have worked tirelessly to provide options and conceptual designs to be able to show STAC that ITER is ready to go.

Overall, the STAC endorsed all the solutions the IO proposed. Some suggestions were made for further refinements to the design. In his final comment, the STAC chairman, Prof Predhiman Kaw, commended the excellent work carried out by the working groups over the past months and the proactive manner in which novel solutions to the critical issues have been sought.

Fusion for Mike is not a profession. It's a vocation!
Mike Wykes could be enjoying himself in a well-earned retirement from a long career in fusion, but like quite a few other scientists and engineers of "a certain age", he is still busy making his contribution to ITER.

Mike read mechanical engineering followed by a DPhil in fluid dynamics. He started off in nuclear fission research in the UK's fast reactor program at Dounreay in the very north of Scotland, and moved into the fusion world of the European JET experiment in the 1980s. His career included remote handling, tritium safety (preparing the safety case for the JET first tritium experiments in 1991) before becoming leader of the Vacuum Group. "I worked with a small team of professionals, all of whom interfaced really closely, so that I could make this move into vacuum technology."

In 1992 he went to work for ITER in Naka. The move to Japan came as a surprise as he originally thought he was going to the Garching ITER site in Germany, but Mike really enjoyed his time in the Far East. Since then, he has worked more or less full time for ITER, in the UK and Japan, before finally coming to Cadarache as chief vacuum engineer in the Vacuum Group.

Asked why he's still working hard for ITER, Mike replies that fusion research is more of a vocation than a profession. There is always something new and mentally challenging to think about. "People believe in fusion."

Messengers of good news: DG Kaname Ikeda and his Special Advisor, Pascale Amenc-Antoni, with the Mayor of Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, Roger Pizot.
On Wednesday, 9 April 2008, the Headquarters Agreement between the ITER Organization and the French Government officially entered into force. The Agreement had been signed by Valérie Pécresse, Minister for Higher Education and Research on behalf of the French Government, and Kaname Ikeda, Director-General Nominee of the ITER Organization on 7 November last year and has now been legally ratified by the French Government.

This Agreement sets out the terms of cooperation between the new International Organization and the French authorities, in particular compliance with French regulations with respect to public safety and security, environmental protection, nuclear safety and radiological protection.

On the occasion the ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda visited Roger Pizot, the mayor of Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, the community that is officially hosting the ITER project. "It is a big honor for us to host ITER," Pizot said. "Everybody here is fully committed to this unique project."

From Ice Cream Parlour to Fusion Headquarters: The future offices of the Indian Domestic Agency.
This month, ITER-India personnel are in the process of moving to their new office which is housed in a rented building about 20 kilometers from the present location at the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR). The new office used to house the office and workshop of a now-bankrupt ice cream company called Dairy Den! This building will house the ITER-India personnel offices, while the ITER R&D labs of ITER-India will be in a new (yet to be constructed) lab within the IPR premises, as it will be using the existing facilities of cryogenics, power etc at IPR. The Lab will be ready in Sepember 2010.

ITER-India had the second Empowered Board meeting on 14 March, 2008, in which the new rules and regulations of the organization as well as 70 new positions (17 in Administration/Finance/Services and 53 Engineers/Technicians) were approved. ITER India will then have a total staff of 120, of which 31 have already joined from IPR, with 19 more to be transferred along with the new positions.

One goal, one voice: The International ITER Communications Team (with DG Kaname Ikeda) at the first meeting in Cadarache.
"It feels like United Nations," Aris Apollonatos said. And the Communications Expert from the European Domestic Agency in Barcelona is right. Working for ITER, a project that spans the world and that represents more than half the world's population, that already unites colleagues from 22 nations here in Cadarache, it can feel like working for the UN.

So it is all the more important to communicate with one voice. "ITER is a project of our time," the Head of ITER Communications, Neil Calder, put it. "But even though we are riding on a tidal wave triggered by climate change and global warming, we have to define a communication strategy."

In order to define this stategy, the Communications staff from IO and the seven Domestic Agencies came together in Cadarache last week for a first in a series of meetings. After short status reports from the DAs, items as the ITER press policy, the relaunch of the ITER website, internal communications, coordination of future events and other joint activities were discussed.

On 11 April, the French Prime Minister François Fillon (centre) visited the site of the Broader Approach (BA) activities in Rokkasho where he was welcomed by Mr. Harada, Parliamentary Secretary for MEXT. The activities of the BA were presented by Pascal Garin, the IFMIF EVEDA Project Leader.