EFDA Newsletter (E.N.): Imagine you had to direct an advertising film, which presents Vandellòs or Cadarache as the favorite ITER site. What, in your opinion, would be the best title for such a film?

Carlos Alejaldre: I guess it could be “Fusion is the origin of the sun and Vandellòs is where the sun is”, something like that…

Jean Jacquinot: What about “An energy option for next generations at Cadarache”?

E.N.: To introduce your film you have to present the greatest strength and the weakest point of your ITER site. What would you say?

Alejaldre: What is quite unique at Vandellòs is the combination of a very good industrial infrastructure and an excellent tourist infrastructure. In the surrounding areas there are already three nuclear power stations and one of the most important petrochemical sites in Southern Europe. Most nuclear industries are not really situated in attractive places. But at Vandellòs there is also a beautiful beach and industry and tourism are aware that they depend on each other, so they take care for the evironment of course…

Jacquinot: A big advantage of the Cadarache site is the fact that there is already a huge support for nuclear and high technology activities. Plasma science exists on-site running a world size lab with Tore Supra operating – this is something that doesn’t exist in any of the other sites. I think that all sites satisfy the minimum demands for ITER, but only Cadarache offers industrial and scientific support adequate to the task of running ITER.

E.N.: …and the weakest point?

Alejaldre: Maybe the fact that CIEMAT is in Madrid and not right at the site. But we are an institution that is used to run in a decentralized way. We are not such a strong and large institution, but we can deliver important support and the advantage for the ITER project in Spain would be that we would totally depend on the international character of the project.

Jacquinot: (laughs) A weak point at Cadarache….?

E.N.: One weak point could be that CEA is a very strong partner. Of course this may be seen as an advantage for ITER, but some people may be afraid that in France ITER would not maintain its international character!

Jacquinot: Well, the ILE, which is the ITER Legal Entity, will be regulated by a treaty. As they will have their own rules regulating ITER, they will be free to go for tender for services at CEA, but this will be their own decision. So I think CEA will just be one of the European contributors to ITER. To use our scientific experience in this context is a huge opportunity for all the ITER partners. ITER will be just like JET is in Culham: it will have its own budget for equipment and be totally separated from the other activities in that area.

E.N.: For your film you have to cast a person who plays a credible ITER director. Who in your opinion would be best suited to this role: an individual who comes from fusion or from industry?

Alejaldre: In principle for the top position I would choose a member of the fusion community. In this position you must fight strongly for fusion, so you have to believe strongly in this project. But around this person there should be a good collection of high level managers, and of course there industrial experience would be relevant. But for the director – some people say it would be difficult to find somebody intelligent enough to run ITER and stupid enough to accept the job (laughs).

Jacquinot: I would say, the main selection criterium is that he or she fits the job description. We need a highly motivated person, who is intellectually very able. He or she could in the end fit much better than any of the specialists.

E.N.: You will also have to explain to the audience of your film, what happens to the other projects, TJ-II and Tore Supra, when ITER is built. ITER is a tokamak and TJ-II a stellarator – has CIEMAT been converted to the tokamak principle?

Alejaldre: What people don’t know is that we will put a helical coil into ITER, when it comes to Spain! (laughs) No, we believe in fusion and clearly the next step is a tokamak like ITER. But there is no conflict between ITER and TJ-II – tokamaks and stellarators are like first cousins, much of the physics is common, and the stellarator can deliver a lot of important results for the tokamak. When ITER comes, the European research on fusion is strengthened, but this has nothing to do with the local research. They could exist next to each other, maybe not TJ-II but TJ-III – or an upgrade of TJ-II.

E.N.: What about the CEA tokamak Tore Supra?

Jacquinot: I think this is a question of money. If ITER comes to Cadarache, ITER becomes the absolute priority of the French Association. So if the money for the ITER project is what it is now, clearly Tore Supra will be progressively phased down. If Europe takes fusion more seriously and increases the budget during the 7th Framework Programme, it is possible that Tore Supra might be able to continue operation. France has already increased its budget, because Tore Supra has worked in a very satisfactory manner with new world records of energy coupled to plasmas to contribute to the ITER studies. We will have to see and review the situation. But if we should have to make sacrifices, it should not be on ITER.

E.N.: If ITER comes to your country would this be the same for you as for a film producer winning the Oscar for his lifework?

Alejaldre: It’s not really the same, but Spain has experienced a tremendous economic growth in the last decade and the country needs to be given a qualitative push. As a large technological institution ITER could be the driver that pushes Spain to a higher technological level. This is why it has become so important for me to convince people to support Spain. In Spain ITER will be the project! But in the end the important thing is that ITER comes to Europe.

Jacquinot: In some ways yes: ITER will be much bigger than our other projects, both in terms of scope and also in international prestige. But I would also say the main thing is that ITER will be built and that this happens in Europe. Of course it would be a great satisfaction for my Association if it is built in France. In any case I think that there will be a satisfying role for each of the ITER parties in this new step of fusion towards the future.

E.N.: So good luck for both of your sites and thank-you for this interview!

Interview: Doris Lutz-Lanzinger

In September 2002 the Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) at Garching (Germany) invited Prof. Dr. Carlos Alejaldre from CIEMAT (Spain) and Dr. Jean Jacquinot from CEA (France) to present their proposed European ITER sites Vandellós and Cadarache.

You can find their presentations on: . “Vandellòs ITER site”


. “Cadarache – a European Site for ITER”


Prof. Dr. Carlos Alejaldre is the director of the Euratom-Association CIEMAT (Centro de Investigationes Energéticas, Medioambientales y Technológicas) in Madrid (Spain).

For more information on CIEMAT see:


Dr. Jean Jacquinot is the Head of the Euratom-CEA Association at Cadarache (France).

For more information on CEA Cadarache see: