ITER is the experimental step between today’s studies of plasma physics and tomorrow’s electricity-producing fusion power plants.

It is based around a plasma operating at about 100 million degrees producing a fusion power of about 500 MW. ITER will generate ten times the power that has to be provided to keep its plasma hot.

ITER is an international project involving six parties, The People’s Republic of China, the European Union and Switzerland (represented by EURATOM), Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States of America, under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA).

The overall p r o g r a m m a t i c objective of ITER is to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion as a safe energy source.

ITER has passed through a number of phases. Activities started with a Conceptual Design Phase (1988-1990), evolving to an Engineering Design Phase (1992 to 1998 and further extended to 2001). A design satisfying the wishes of the participating countries was completed in July 2001, to the extent necessary to establish its cost, schedule, safety, and licensing requirements.

After the site decision the following steps are expected:

1. A Joint Implementation Agreement has to be signed and ratified by the partners and the ITER organization will then be set up.

2. The construction phase starts. The hardware contracts are launched and, eventually, the systems are assembled and commissioned.

3. The estimated 20 years operation phase takes place.

4. The decommissioning phase takes place, when the plant is dismantled and disposed of.

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