US suspends nuclear fusion participation
United States will suspend for this year its financial participation in an international nuclear fusion project for budgetary reasons
January 17, 2008 (AFP) - The United States will suspend for this year its financial participation in an international nuclear fusion project for budgetary reasons, project spokesman Neil Calder said Thursday.
"This is a very worrying situation, but we cannot come to the conclusion
that the United States will quit ITER," said Calder, of the International
Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, confirming a report first
published in France's Le Figaro daily.
The move came after the US scientific community discovered late December
that its research budget had been cut by 400 million dollars (272 million
euros), rather than increasing as expected, Calder said.
Roughly 160 million of that amount was earmarked for 2008 for the
France-based ITER project, expected to be up and running by 2016.
"It's not a cash contribution that has been withdrawn from the project, but
equipment that the Americans were to have constructed that will be delayed,"
The United States is expected to contribute 9 percent of the 10-billion
dollar project shared among Europe, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and
India. The European Union is to contribute the lion's share, or 46 percent of
The project aims to research a clean and limitless alternative to dwindling
fossil fuel reserves by testing nuclear fusion technologies.
Instead of splitting the atom -- the principle behind current nuclear
plants -- the project seeks to harness nuclear fusion: the power of the sun
and the stars achieved by fusing together atomic nuclei.
If it is successful, a prototype commercial reactor will be built, and if
that works, fusion technology will be rolled out across the world.