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Of Interest

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Closing the circle

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Last week, this world spanning international cooperation called ITER closed the circle. On Friday, 10 October, the Chinese Domestic Agency celebrated its official opening. This is a big step for our project, as with China all the seven ITER members have now established Domestic Agencies and are thus fully operational. I travelled to Beijing to bear witness to this important event, and also to take the opportunity to sign the Procurement Arrangement with China for ITER's poloidal field conductors, the first of three. That is positive news as the imperative of maintaining the project schedule remains at the forefront of all our activities.

At the same time, identifying all possible means of reducing the project's cost remains the distant beacon. One of the instruments that help us navigate our ship is the Briscoe Committee that is running an independent assessment of the ITER resource estimates. The board recently convened for a second meeting in Aix-en-Provence and will present its findings to the ITER Council in November.

It is the objective of the ITER Organization and all Domestic Agencies to integrate the Domestic Agencies more effectively into the project as it gains momentum and moves into the phase of very large procurements. This made the ITER Organization/Domestic Agency meeting held in Moscow in September particularly important. In this meeting it was decided to set up new bodies, called integrated product teams. While execution still waits for the endorsement of the ITER Management Advisory Committee (MAC), it was decided to immediately form three pilot teams for the vacuum vessel, the blanket and pulsed power supplies.

ITER is still a young organization and important steps were taken to refine our administrative and financial procedures. DIAMS, the SAP software based, Dynamic ITER Administrative Management System, was launched in September in the Human Resources and Finance divisions. From now on, payroll calculations, personnel data, job description data, finance, budget, procurement, and travel operations will be managed through SAP.

Finally, this week, the worldwide fusion community is gathering in Geneva to exchange the latest results in fusion research. The conference takes place in exactly the same building, the Palais des Nations, and exactly 50 years after the historic declassification of fusion research in 1958. Much has happened in the field of fusion during that period but now all eyes are on us, on ITER, reminding us of the importance of our mission in search of new energy.

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