The US is starting negotiations to join the ITER international project to develop a magnetic fusion power plant, the US secretary of energy Spencer Abraham has announced. The US joins Russia, the EU, Canada and Japan, which have been pushing the project forward as the successor to the JET project, for some time, along with China, which joined recently. Its precise role will be determined during negotiations. but the US wants to be involved in the provision of a number of hardware projects, management of the construction process, and to participate in the research and technology development.

The purpose of ITER is to demonstrate technological feasibility by creating a reactor that will produce a sustainable energy output. In terms of the project aims this means producing 500 MW ouput for 50 MW input, for at least 500 seconds on a repeatable basis. Construction cost is expected to be at least $5 bn, of which the US share is expected to be around $500 m. Sites in the EU, Japan and Canada are being considered for the project, which is scheduled to be operational by 2014.