Statement on U.S. ITER Funding, Dec 2007
We the elected Officers of the Division of Plasma Physics of the
American Physical Society deplore the zeroing of the funding for the
International Tokamak Experimental Reactor (ITER) in the 2008 Omnibus
spending bill recently passed by Congress.
The goal of the ITER project is the scientific demonstration and
investigation of controlled nuclear fusion, the energy source of the
stars, for its eventual practical use for electricity generation. The
project has the strong support of the national and international
scientific community, and of the governments of the six other
partners. Through much negotiation a site for the facility and the
responsibilities of the partners have been agreed.
Just a year ago the United States made the formal commitment to
participate in this project. The international entity to carry out
the project was legally constituted in October. Major scientific and
technical collaborations of the scale of ITER require stable efforts
by the partners over multiple years to achieve their mission. Earlier
US leadership in the design of ITER represents substantial past
investment in this undertaking. Zeroing ITER's US budget in fiscal
2008 is completely inconsistent with our commitment, and will
undermine the credibility of the US as a reliable international
scientific partner in this and every other large-scale project.
The failure of the Omnibus bill to fund appropriately this and other
research and education programs authorized in the bipartisan America
COMPETES Act will damage US competitiveness in key science and
engineering areas, especially energy, and discourage American youth
from pursuing these fields. This is not the right course for our
We therefore urge Congress and the Administration to reconsider the
2008 science funding, and to restore funding to the US ITER program to
carry out our commitment to this strategic mission in fusion research.