From June 19 to 20, 2019, the 24th ITER Council Meeting was held at the headquarters of the ITER Organization in Saint Paula Duranz, France. Vice Minister Huang Wei headed a Chinese delegation for the meeting. ITER Council members and experts from China, the EU, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States, as well as senior officials from the ITER Organization attended in the meeting.
The Council meeting was opened with the reappointment ceremony of ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot. The meeting focused on the ITER organizational restructuring plan for a transition towards the assembly, installation and construction stages, deliberated and discussed major issues including the annual work plan for 2019, budget implementation for the first half of the year, implementation of the updated construction strategy, progress in deep and independent management evaluation, design interface solidification and configuration management, and risk and opportunity management. As an important pre-session consultation mechanism of the Council meeting, delegates from all parties held a series of bilateral and multilateral talks and heads of delegation meeting on 18 June. The participants discussed and communicated in depth on organizational structural reform, project budget and key factors influencing program goals to make sound pre-consultations for the smooth convening of the Council meeting.
The Council meeting fully acknowledged the efforts made by the ITER Organization and all domestic agencies to ensure the realization of First Plasma by 2025, and appreciated the remarkable progress made by the ITER project team in the implementation of procurement package manufacturing tasks, construction and installation, risk management and control and human resources management. 63% of the overall project goals of the ITER Program had been fulfilled so far, as well as 70% of the building complex and infrastructure work required for the discharging of the First Plasma.
Vice Minister Huang Wei and his team from the Chinese delegation held bilateral talks with the delegations of EU, South Korea and the senior management team of the ITER Director-General, and attended the heads of delegation meeting and liaison meeting, and expressed China‘s stands and concerns on key issues. VM Huang stressed that while having achieved remarkable progress, problems and challenges still exist in the implementation of the ITER Program and all parties should keep an eye on the organizational structural reform, components and tasks on critical path, as well as the resulted progress and cost changes. The ITER Director-General expressed that China has always been an exemplar in the ITER Program, able to complete the manufacturing and delivery tasks of the ITER procurement package components by the specified time and quality and play an important role in coordinating and promoting key issues, which is highly appreciated by the senior management team of the ITER Organization.
Deputy Director Jia Jinlei of the Department of Systems Engineering of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, Deputy Director Chen Linhao of the Department of International Cooperation of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Director Luo Delong of China International Nuclear Fusion Energy Program Execution Center, Minister Counsellor Sun Yuming of the Science and Technology Section of the Chinese Embassy in France also attended the meeting.
To exchange management experience between China and the EU on ITER procurement package manufacturing, make early technical preparations for building China’s Fusion Engineering Experimental Reactor, and share international resources through cooperation for the manufacturing of reactor components, the Chinese delegation also visited Italy at the invitation of the EU. They called upon procurement package manufacturer SIMIC in Padova, the toroidal field coil manufacturing plant and the large neutron beam test facility built by the EU for ITER. The delegation also visited manufacturer Walter Tosto S.p.A. in Rome, which is responsible for the vacuum chamber of ITER.
During his visit to Italy, Vice Minister Huang met with Italian Vice Minister of Economic Development Geraci. Both sides recognized that China and Italy have reached important consensus in various fields including building the Belt and Road together, and agreed to become partners based on“inclusive development and common interests”, bringing bilateral relations to a new height in history. To implement the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Ministry of Science and Technology of China and the Ministry of Economic Development of Italy on Strengthening Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation of Startup Companies signed with the witness of the President of both countries, the two sides made it clear that they will support start-up activities in both countries through science parks, industrial clusters and S&T service agencies and encourage the start-ups to engage in exchanges and cooperation by participating in China-Italy Innovation Week and China-Italy Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge, in a bid to pool innovative resources and raise the level of cooperation.
(24th ITER Council Meeting was held in France)
(Group photo of the Chinese delegation at the 24th ITER Council Meeting )