ITER On The Ropes

News.2009.ITERsite I guess that's what happens when you set out on a path that requires billions of dollars from dozens of countries — just to light a match.

Construction at the site of ITER — the multibillion-euro project to prove controlled nuclear fusion — has been at a standstill since April, Nature has learned.

The stoppage comes as European contributors negotiate how to pay for their share of ITER, a collaboration between Europe, Japan, South Korea, Russia, the United States, China and India. The European Union (EU) is by far the largest participant, providing some 45% of construction costs, including the buildings that will eventually house the giant machine in St Paul lez Durance, in the south of France.

Excavations for the buildings, slated to begin this autumn, will not start until spring 2010 — roughly a year after site preparations were completed.