‘Privileged partnership with Japan’ is new Commission mandate for ITER talks

The Competitiveness Council has given a new mandate to the
Commission to pursue an agreement on the location of the
thermonuclear reactor by making Japan a ‘special
partner’.

The Commission has been given a new mandate on
negotiating the location of
the international experimental thermonuclear
reactor (ITER) by exploring a “privileged
partnership” with the EU’s main rival
Japan. 

The Competitiveness Council on 26 November 2004
adopted proposals to empower the Commission to “do
its utmost to finalise negotiations between the six
partners of ITER in the very near future”. However,
no deadline was specified.

While both Council and Commission have reconfirmed
their commitment to reach agreement with all partners,
the mandate does not rule out the possibility
for the EU to go ahead on its own and build the reactor
on its favourite site, Caradache, in France. Meanwhile,
Japan is backing its own site of Rokkasho-Mura
(see   
EURACTIV 11 November 2004

). The offer of a “privileged partnership” is
designed to secure Japan’s approval for the
French site.

“Japan could receive favourable conditions to
reflect its special contribution to the ITER
project,” said the Commission. However, Science
& Research Commissioner Potocnik has rejected
reports interpreting this offer as a form of
‘compensation’ for Japan. 

Nuclear fusion is hoped to provide a low-pollution
long-term solution to the world’s growing energy
problems. As opposed to nuclear fission, which produces
energy by blowing atoms apart (such as in nuclear weapons
and nuclear reactors), nuclear fusion involves the
merging of atoms.

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