International consortium chooses France as site for thermonuclear fusion reactor

A six-party consortium chose France as the site for an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, a spokeswoman for the European Union said Tuesday.

Antonia Mochan, spokeswoman for the European Commission's science and research committee, said the decision was made in Moscow at a closed-door meeting of the consortium.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is intended to show that nuclear fusion, which harnesses the same energy that heats the sun to generate electricity, can wean the world off pollution-producing fossil fuels. Nuclear fusion produces no greenhouse gas emissions and only low levels of radioactive waste.

The project is funded by a consortium comprised of Japan, the United States, South Korea, Russia, China and the European Union, but the six parties had been divided over where to put the test reactor.

Competition was intense. At stake are billions of dollars (euros) worth of research funding, construction and engineering contracts, and the creation of up to 100,000 new jobs, according to estimates cited by Dow Jones NewsWires.

Japan, the United States and South Korea wanted the facility built at Rokkasho in northern Japan. Russia, China and the European Union wanted it at Cadarache, in southern France. Site proposals for Canada and Spain had already been withdrawn.

The EU site in France had been seen as the front-runner, and Japanese newspaper reports had said Tokyo was prepared to give up hosting the US$13 billion („џ10.8 billion) ITER project in return for a bigger research and operations role in the project.

Some scientists have warned that both sites are in seismically active zones and could be prone to earth tremors.

VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer

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