IAEA, ITER expand cooperation on fusion

20 June 2019

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the ITER International Fusion Energy Organisation are to enhance their cooperation in nuclear fusion research and related activities following the signing of an agreement that expands one signed in 2008.

Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy (right), conveyed the Practical Arrangements as previously signed by the IAEA to ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot, who signed them (Image: Arnoux/ITER)

IAEA Assistant Director General and Chief Coordinator Cornel Feruta signed the agreement - known as Practical Arrangements - at the IAEA's headquarters in Vienna earlier this week. The document was conveyed to ITER Organisation Director-General Bernard Bigot, who signed it yesterday at the ITER Council Session at ITER's headquarters in St Paul-lez-Durance, France.

Under the arrangements ITER will share its experience related to nuclear fusion safety and radiation protection with the IAEA and its 171 Member States, including those who are not members of ITER. ITER's information would play an important role for the potential development of IAEA safety standards related to nuclear fusion as well as relevant nuclear security guidance.

The two organisations will also implement educational initiatives on plasma physics and fusion engineering. They will coordinate activities in public outreach and will cooperate in knowledge management and human resources development.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said: "The challenge to achieve the goal of fusion power production can only be met through concerted international efforts. ITER's impressive work plays a central role in this field. We look forward to our intensified collaboration."

Bigot added, "The IAEA hosts a wide range of initiatives in fusion and is the key international organisation in fostering global research in this area. Our Practical Arrangements deepen the long tradition of cooperation between our organisations."

The ITER Organisation is coordinating the construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor at Cadarache, in southern France. This is a major international project to build a 500 MW tokamak fusion device (requiring an input of 50 MW) designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy. The European Union is contributing almost half of the cost of its construction, while the other six members (China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the USA) are contributing equally to the rest.

Under a revised schedule established by the ITER Organisation in 2016, first plasma is planned for 2025, with deuterium-tritium fusion experiments commencing in 2035. Construction costs are expected to be around EUR20.0 billion (USD22.6 billion), with components contributed by the ITER members on an 'in-kind' basis.

Activities leading to the establishment of ITER were carried out under Agency auspices and the IAEA Director General is the Depository of the ITER agreement, which was signed in 2006.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News