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Council Chairman addresses ITER staff

-Sabina Griffith

 (Click to view larger version...)
Llewellyn Smith taking a close look at the site progress. (Click to view larger version...)
Llewellyn Smith taking a close look at the site progress.
The Council Chairman meets representatives of the ITER Staff Committee. (Click to view larger version...)
The Council Chairman meets representatives of the ITER Staff Committee.
Last week, Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, Chairman of the ITER Council, addressed the ITER staff. In an encouraging and motivating "we owe it to the world" talk he stressed the importance of the project. The recent increase in the costs of energy — particularly oil — underlined the importance of developing new energy options, said the Council Chairman, and fusion was a major option. "We owe it to the future that ITER works, and we all must hope — on behalf of our children and grandchildren — that it does establish the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power."

He continued to explain the stakes of the second ITER Council meeting recently held in Aomori, Japan. It was "a difficult meeting" due to the reported increase in the cost of ITER. But setting up a new organization on a green field site is always very difficult, Llewellyn Smith said. "The difficulties are compounded by the unprecedented technical challenges involved in building ITER, and the constraints inside which an international organization must operate."

Nevertheless he had been "very impressed by the progress that had been made since the first ITER Council meeting last year," a view which was shared by the Council's advisory committees, and echoed in opening remarks by Heads of Delegations to the Council.

The decision to set up a review group led by Frank Briscoe should not be seen as criticism, "but as an absolutely essential political step, which is necessary to ensure the reliability of the costs, and that all options for reduction have been explored." But Llewellyn Smith left no doubt about the overall aim of ITER: "While keeping very tight control of costs, we must not compromise the ultimate aims of the project even if it requires the provision of extra resources." Even if the budget increased it would still be "a small price for a reasonable chance to give the world another energy source" he said, quoting a Financial Times article from 2004. "For the sake of the world, we must succeed."


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