A unique and successful meeting was held at MIT in Cambrige (USA) on 18/19 November 2002 to consider the coordinated implementation of high priority burning tokamak plasma research on the major world tokamaks. The leaders of these facilities (JET and ASDEX Upgrade from Europe; JT-60U from Japan; and DIII-D, C-Mod and NSTX from the U.S.) met with representatives of the Coordinating Committee of the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) and the Executive Committees of the International Energy Agency Implementing Agreements (IEA-IAs) on Cooperation Among the Large Tokamak Facilities between the EU, Japan and the US, and on the Poloidal Divertor Agreement between the EU and the US.

The ITPA Topical Physics Groups involve about 150 scientists from the EU, Japan, the Russian Federation and the US and during their meetings in October 2002 developed outline proposals for experiments on open physics issues which should be pursued in order to enhance understanding of tokamak burning plasma science for ITER. These proposals addressed issues related to plasma confinement, internal and edge transport barriers, divertor and scrape-off layer physics, MHD instabilities, disruptions and control, steady state operation, fast particles and diagnostic developments. The meeting at MIT discussed the implementation of those outline proposals which would benefit from coordinated joint experiments on the major world tokamaks and would lead to an improved predictive capability.

Significant advances are expected from conducting identity, and dimensionally similar, discharges on machines with different sizes and capabilities, from identifying the data needs for better conditioned data bases, from confirming that similar effects on different machines have the same physics basis, from establishing, characterising and determining the limitations of key operating scenarios, and from developing and transferring operational, control and analysis techniques.

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MHD (Magnetohydrodynamic) instabilities:
Unstable distortions of the shape of the plasma/magnetic field system.

About 40 such proposals were discussed. The tokamak leaders indicated their interest in considering for 2003 eleven proposals which were well-developed for two or more tokamaks and another sixteen if they could be developed sufficiently for the programme planning meetings which the major tokamaks were holding in December 2002. The remaining proposals were considered to be on-going programmatic activities that did not yet require joint experiments. The consolidated set of coordinated experiments on the major tokamaks during 2003 should be finalised in the middle of January 2003. The implementation of these proposals will require personnel and some hardware exchanges and these will be carried out under the legal framework provided by the existing IEA-IAs on tokamaks.

The meeting proved to be a very productive opportunity for enhanced communication among the leaders of the major world tokamaks, the leaders of the ITPA, and members of the Executive Committees of the IEA-IAs. The discussions and implementation of coordinated joint experiments will add significant value to the experiments on the individual facilities, enhance progress on tokamak burning plasma physics issues and contribute to the success of future burning plasma experiments such as ITER.