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India signs historic pact on ITER nuclear fusion plant

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Nov 21 (UNI) India and six other members of a global consortium today signed an historic agreement in Paris to build the world's most advanced nuclear fusion reactor that seeks to develop a cheap and abundant source of energy.

Representatives of India, the European Union, the United States, Japan, Russia, South Korea and China signed the agreement of the International Fusion Energy Organisation to build the 12.8 billion dollar ITER reactor, finalising the project after years of negotiations.

Earlier called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor but now known as ITER, the project will be built at Cadarache in southern France over a decade from 2008.

The ITER reactor will aim to turn seawater into fuel by posion the way the sun produces energy.

Unlike existing fission reactors, which release energy by splitting atoms apart, ITER would generate energy by combining atoms.

Atomic Energy Commission Chairmain Anil Kakodkar led the Indian delegation to the ceremony hosted by French President Jacques Chirac and European Union President M Jose Manuel Durao Barroso at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris.

Mr Kakodkar expressed happiness that all issues related to cooperation had been resolved, and that the Director-General, the Principal Deputy-Director-General and the Deputy Director Generals had joined the ITER team in Cadarache.

''We have just signed the ITER agreement which is a unique step in the history of mankind. It is perhaps a harbinger of the future telling humanity how it must face up to its problems and solve them.

A model to be followed again and again.

''Now the next step is to strengthen the technical team at Cadarache with an appropriate balance of experienced and young engineers and scientists and to provide them with an environment which rapidly promotes the task of implementation of the project.

''We must do this ensuring that the critical human resource from original ITER teams is fully utilized and that long term and viable management tools for ITER are immediately put into place,'' he said.

Citing a 'shloka' from the Rig Veda, he said: ''Our ancestors intuitively grasped the importance of the Sun as the ultimate provider and sustainer of life on Earth. What they perhaps did not foresee is that one day their progeny would imitate the Sun right here on Earth to cater to vastly increased energy needs'' ''India is is proud to be a partner in this enterprise of getting the man made star - ITER - off the ground with our shoulders to the wheel-- like one of the seven mythological steeds pulling on the carriage of the Lord Surya, the Sun God,'' he added.

''Fusion has the potential to provide abundant and clean energy based on resources available everywhere without significant ecological issues associated with mining of earth's resources.'' The decision to invite India as a full partner was taken at the ITER negotiations meetings in Jeju, South Korea, on December 6 last year.

US President George W Bush had pledged to consult other ITER members about India's accession in the joint statement issued by him and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after their momentous summit meeting in Washington on July 18 last year.


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