Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

America Pulls out of the International Nuclear Fusion Project

Posted by K.E. White on January 18, 2008

American participation in the global fusion project—the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactorwill be sidelined for the next fiscal year, thanks to congressionally pushed shifts to Department of Energy spending. 

From World Nuclear News:

In its omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal 2008, announced in December, Congress included only $10.7 million for US work on the project. The US financial commitment for Iter is $1.1 billion, and the Bush administration had proposed spending $160 million in 2008 to start purchasing components for the project.

Although the Department of Energy’s Office of Science’s total science budget increased 4.6% to $4 billion, most of those increases were for supercomputers and biological research. Congress withheld money for DoE’s $160 million commitment to Iter, the international fusion reactor in France, and slashed funding for the International Linear Collider (ILC), the next-generation particle accelerator, from $60 million to $15 million.

Iter will be a crucial step in the development of nuclear fusion power stations. The 500 MWt device will be the proving ground for technologies and operational procedures leading to the eventual exploitation of nuclear fusion as a source of abundant clean energy. Parties involved in the project are: China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, the USA and the European Union. The resulting technology will be available for use by all participants.

The Iter program is projected to last for 30 years, with ten years of construction followed by 20 years of operation, although this may be extended. In total the project is expected to cost just under $15 billion.

John Borland at Wired News calls this episode “embarrassing” to the United States, and notes the three domestic fusion projects still received funding:

The cuts – about $149 million over the next year – won’t kill the project. The other partners, including Europe, Japan, China, India, Russia and South Korea, are still ponying up. But it will hurt, and it will certainly hurt the United States‘ role in this field.

Maybe there was concern about sharing this kind of technology with so many other nations. I hope that wasn’t the case, although Congress did allow funding for fusion research on three homegrown projects to continue. Maybe there was the sense that the payoff for fusion research is so far off that it’s expendable today.

Whatever the case, it’s embarrassing. The U.S. and the Soviet Union started the effort leading to this project all the way back in 1985. The U.S. dropped out once before, in 1998, before rejoining in 2003.

It’s still not impossible (although technically banned by Congress) that the Department of Energy will somehow find funds to fulfill at least part of the U.S. commitment. It’s laudable that Congress is funding renewable energy sources well, but this kind of international cooperation on research should not be overlooked.

2 Responses to “America Pulls out of the International Nuclear Fusion Project”

  1. i believe i have uncovered a symbolic discovery of unlimited clean energy of using water via nuclear fusion upon palm sunday 2007- I have been shown many signs after this date-in the beginning it was two sticks for fire- now- i propose two electrodes for unlimited clean energy- it is energy which fuels a world for comfort-life-stability-coupled with laws from the heavens we have lived our lives- we are all messengers of god if we listen-we are communicated with thru our dreams-coincidental moments-etc- you would be lucky to have one handful in which you swear to be divinely inspired in your entire life-our time is a test and we are by far left alone in order to see how we help one another- do not expect the heavens to fix mans problems- it is the heavens who watch us fix our own- we have everything upon this magical blue planet- it is our duty as man to live up to our potential- my first name means peace- my last name is the father of Abraham-father of arab and jews- it is also the name of fire in the first religion of zorasterian to this day-in the beginning is a story of brotherhood between cain and able- in this age of enlightenment we shall be called together under god and see what the brothers of Issac and Ishmael do in the middle east- it is in the interests of all human beings to support its unification-as it is the desire all nations shall be under one God—IF WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN SOUNDS UNORTHODOX TO YOU-MY ROAD TRAVELED TO SOLVE THIS ENERGY CRISIS WAS UNORTHODOX-THE WEIGHT OF MY WORDS WILL BE FELT WHEN THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY HAS UNDERSTOOD THE MIRACLE I HAVE UNCOVERED–TO NOT WALK ON WATER-BUT TO DELIVER IT FOR UNLIMITED & CLEAN ENERGY— TIME WILL TELL-solomon

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