Japan stands firm in the face of new EU deadline on ITER

March 10, 2005

Brussels, 09 Mar 2005

Japan has said that it will continue to pursue its bid to host the international thermonuclear experimental reactor (ITER), despite a warning from the EU that it is not prepared to wait beyond June for a decision.

On 7 March, the current chair of the Competitiveness Council, Luxembourg Research Minister Francois Biltgen, said: 'In November 2004, [the Council] took a fundamental decision and set out a timetable, and according to this timetable, work on ITER should begin before the end of the year.'

He continued: 'If we want this to happen, definitive decisions will have to be taken under the Luxembourg Presidency.' The EU Presidency will be handed from Luxembourg to the UK on 1 July.

EU Research Commission Janez Potocnik backed up Mr Biltgen's comments, adding: 'We have to remember that we would like to start building the project at the site of Cadarache in the course of this year, If we take into account the fact that we would need half of the year to prepare for it, we need to find a solution very soon.'

Japan's stance does not appear to have altered, however. Responding to these comments, Takahiro Hayashi, deputy director of the Japanese Office of Fusion Energy, is reported as saying: 'There is no change in our position. We have been conducting technical discussions at the working level, and we believe the Japanese proposal about the project is superior to the EU proposal.'

Furthermore, Mr Hayashi reportedly added that he had heard no official word about a new deadline for a decision. 'We know there is talk about bringing this to the political level for decision-making. We believe it is still premature to do so,' he concluded.

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