ITER Council meets virtually

The Twenty-Sixth Meeting of the ITER Council convened on 17-18 June to assess the latest progress reports and performance metrics of the ITER Project, including preliminary assessments of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time in its history, the meeting took place by videoconference. International travel restrictions could not keep the 26th Meeting of the ITER Council from taking place, but they did contribute to modifying the format and the organization of the two-day meeting, which traditionally convenes at ITER Headquarters. On the east coast of the United States, participants logged in by videoconference at 6:00 a.m., while in Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo it was a meeting that started at the end of the workday. In India, participants joined in the late afternoon, whereas in the European capitals and Moscow the discussions began closer to lunch. For the first time in ITER Council history, Council members—high-level government representatives and experts from each of the ITER Members—carried out their review of ITER Project progress in two three-hour remote sessions, one on each day. It was the first ITER Council chaired by LUO Delong, from China. The group commended the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies for the development and rapid deployment of a continuity plan during the global pandemic COVID-19. The plan permitted critical activities related to ITER's closely integrated project schedule to move forward, while ensuring the health and safety of staff and collaborators and a rigorous adherence to hygienic measures. To date, there have been no instances of COVID-19 infection on the ITER worksite. Globally, the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies have been able to maintain productivity in oversight, in design activities, and in the progress on many schedule-critical activities. However, the extended shutdowns in the manufacturing of some key components in affected countries, and the slowdown in some assembly activities might have potential consequences for the project schedule. The Council will review a follow-up report at its next meeting in November. The Council also noted, with appreciation, the number of project achievements since its last meeting, including the completion and delivery of multiple first-of-a-kind components that have been five or more years in fabrication. Project execution towards First Plasma is nearly at 70%. Read the IC-26 press release in English and in French.