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ITER Director-General Is Lobbying the White House for Increased Fusion Funding

Dec. 6, 2017 (EIRNS)—International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) Director-General Bernard Bigot is appealing to President Trump to increase U.S. fusion funding so that the U.S. can meet its commitments to ITER. Bigot is in Washington, Reuters reports, to talk with the Administration about the budget. He is explaining that the 2017 U.S. ITER budget was cut from a planned $105 million to $50 million, and that the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 request, at $63 million, is a cut from the previously planned level of $120 million. In fact, the higher numbers are each tens of millions of dollars less than what is needed to meet U.S. hardware contributions to building the ITER tokamak, which needs minimally $150 million per year.

Bigot said that French President Emmanuel Macron wrote a letter to Trump in August asking his administration to reconsider the fusion funding level. (ITER is being built in France.)

"We hope for a decision this weekend," Bigot said. He explained that when Trump cut the Energy Department’s budget, the department reduced the funding for ITER.

Today, ITER released a statement by Bigot on the progress of the project. ITER has reached the milestone of completing 50% of the total construction work, Bigot reports. The statement summarizes ITER’s status, and then the Director-General says:

"Looking ahead, we will need the commitment and support of every member to maintain this performance.... A shortfall in the commitment of any member, if it impacts the delivery of that member’s components, will have a cascading effect in delays and costs to all other members."

(Hint, hint).