No doubt, the 21st of December 2006 was a memorable moment in the history of science. That morning at the Elysée Palace in Paris, the International ITER agreement was signed by the Ministers of the seven ITER-Parties, the European Union, China, India, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America and the Republic of Korea. "With this signature, we take a new step on an adventure that is exceptional in every way", the President of the French Republic and host of the signing ceremony, M. Jacques Chirac, said. "Exceptional for its scientific ambition: to harness the sun´s power to take up the challenge of ecological energy. And exceptional for its international scale: the unprecedented association of seven major partners from the North to the South. It is the hand held out to future generations, in the name of solidarity and responsibility", Chirac said in his opening speech.
Also present at the ceremony was the President of the European Commission, M. José Manuel Durão Barroso, who stressed Europe´s determination to assume its responsibilities in this project. Celebrating ITER´s birthday demonstrated the strength of a united Europe, Barroso said. And with regard to the remorselessly growing energy demand and the climate change accelerating dangerously, the EU-President added: "The stakes are high - not to say vital for our planet".
With the signature of the ITER Agreement and the first Council meeting that same day, the ITER Organization can start its operation on a provisional basis pending the entry into force of the agreement which is expected in the course of 2007. In a personal statement, ITER Director General Nominee Kaname Ikeda added: "With the accomplishment of today´s meeting, the ITER Organization is able to embark on its mission, as a worldwide international cooperation, to help create a new source of energy for humankind".