Brussels, 12 June 2002
Japan has joined Canada in proposing a site for the planned international experimental fusion reactor, ITER. Spain and France have also sent letters to EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin outlining the merits of potential locations in their countries.
The Japanese city of Rokkasho was specified at the end of May by the Japanese council for science, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Koizumi, as the proposed location for the reactor.
Meanwhile in Europe, a letter sent last year from the French authorities to Mr Busquin, suggesting Cadarache as a potential site, has been followed by a letter from Spanish science and technology minister Anna Birulés on 17 April putting forward the Catalan location of Vandellós as a possibility.
On May, the European Council of Ministers authorised the European Commission in an amendment to a previous directive to take the European site proposals into consideration and negotiate cost-sharing with the partners.
In a further development, two high-ranking US officials have confirmed that the USA is considering re-entering the ITER project, which it left in 1997. First Roy Orbach, head of the US office of science in the department of energy and then energy secretary Spencer Abraham, stated that 'serious consultation' was taking place regarding the country's re-entry.
On 2 May, Mr Spencer said: 'President Bush is particularly interested in the potential of the international effort known as ITER and has asked us to seriously consider American participation.'