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ITER project – ITER Extraordinary Council

Published on July 29, 2010
Speech given on behalf of Pierre Lellouche, Minister of State responsible for European Affairs, and Valérie Pécresse, Minister for Higher Education and Research (excerpts)

Cadarache, July 28, 2010

It is an honour, and also a pleasure, to extend the warmest of welcomes to the ITER Executive Council, on the very site where the reactor is being built, at a decisive moment in this hugely ambitious scientific programme.

We wanted to speak to you today to express to you the total support of France and all the EU Member States for this great international project.

We realize just how exceptional a project ITER is, for scientific, technological and political reasons:

- scientifically, ITER is the most ambitious, global-scale scientific cooperation project ever proposed, way ahead of the international space station. Controlling thermonuclear fusion by 2050 is a major long-term challenge at a time when sustainable development, the exhaustion of fossil fuels and environmental protection are at the centre of discussions on the planet’s future: in this respect we should like to express our wholehearted solidarity with our American friends, hard hit by the oil slick currently devastating the Louisiana coast;

- technologically, ITER will make decisive breakthroughs possible in many fields, particularly materials technology;

- politically, ITER is one of the European Union’s flagship projects: a technological showcase for each participating country, it exemplifies what we want to promote, a Europe of concrete projects in strategic areas, geared to innovation. As you know, France and Europe have long had expertise in the field of controlled fusion which it is important to capitalize on for the benefit of this joint project.

In this context, the support of the local authorities and people in order to ensure that everyone who will be contributing to the project is made extremely welcome is crucial.

France has put the exceptional scientific environment of Cadarache and the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission teams at the service of the ITER project.

The progress in the work on preparing the site and the route from the port of Fos to Cadarache, and the support France has provided in order to ensure the smoothest possible installation of the ITER Organization and its personnel, show, if this were needed, France’s unfailing determination to serve the project and ensure its success and viability.

Europe too is particularly conscious of its responsibilities, as the supplier of several of the programme’s critical components, such as the buildings, vacuum vessel and superconducting coils.

You know how strained our budget is: we are suffering the most serious economic and financial crisis since 1929, and all the European States are engaged in policies seeking to restore our full control of our public finances. Difficult and painful choices have to be made daily.

We want to tell you again that these constraints, and these challenges, have in no way swayed Europe’s determination and desire to see the project through to its successful conclusion. By overcoming the difficulties, we have demonstrated the constancy of our commitment to the ITER project and our repeated desire to make ITER a scientific, technological, industrial and political success.

So we now wish to look to the future and want you to be able to define, together, the scenarios most capable of guaranteeing the success of the reactor’s construction.

This will, quite obviously, have to mean greater efforts from us all to strengthen the good governance of the project and complete the overall project of the reactor’s construction in order to achieve the objective we have set ourselves, which is to have the reactor itself in operation on time and on budget. (…)./.

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