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China to continue participation in ITER project
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China will continue to participate in an international nuclear fusion project that aims at incubating a sustained solution for energy production, a Chinese physicist said on Tuesday, following funding suspension from the United States

Wan Baonian is the deputy director of the Institute of Plasma Physics located in the eastern Chinese city of Hefei. The institute is listed under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Wan made the remarks in Beijing on the sidelines of the annual session of the country's top political advisory body.

"It (the U.S. suspension) won't affect China's arrangements for taking part in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project," Wan told Xinhua.

Wan's institute is a participant in the 11-billion-euro project, which also involves the European Union, the United States, India, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan.

ITER has been the largest ever scientific research program under multinational collaboration aimed at studying the scientific and technical feasibility of the world's most advanced nuclear fusion reactor. The device is described as an "artificial sun" as it will create conditions similar to those occurring in solar nuclear fusion reactions.

If successful, the project could generate infinite, safe and clean energy to replace fossil fuels such as oil and coal, and will be 30 times more powerful than the Joint European Torus (JET), the largest comparable experiment.

The ITER agreement went into effect on Oct. 28 last year. Among its members, the EU will pay 45.4 percent of the total ITER budget, while China is responsible for 9.1 percent of the budget, which is equal to the percentage shared by each of the other five participating countries.

But the United States has suspended this year's financial participation in the project for budgetary reasons, even though it had pledged 160 million dollars.

On China's part, the country will contribute about 10 billion yuan (1.4 billion U.S. dollars), or 10 percent of the total cost, to the project. About half of China's contribution will be spent during the 10-year construction phase of the multi-nation undertaking.

Chinese researchers will be in charge of building components such as heating, diagnostic and remote maintenance equipment, as well as transporting materials to Cadarache in the south of France, where the ITER reactor is expected to be set up and running by 2016.

(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2008)

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