Start of assembly | World dignitaries celebrate a collaborative achievement

Due to the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the crowd in the ITER Assembly Hall was small. But thanks to live broadcasting and video feed, the audience was global.  On Tuesday 28 July, as the machine assembly phase symbolically kicked off, President Macron of France and dignitaries from the seven ITER Members acknowledged the importance of the moment, reaffirmed their confidence in ITER success, and congratulated the "One ITER team" for the remarkable progress accomplished in exceptionally challenging times. The moment was historic. Ten years after the start of construction in August 2010, ITER was marking a new chapter in its long history. In the months and weeks that preceded Tuesday's event, several strategic components had been delivered to the construction site—among them one toroidal field coil from Europe and two from Japan. The first vacuum vessel sector from Korea was unloaded at Marseille harbour on 22 July and is expected on site in a little more than a week. "As we launch the assembly phase of the ITER machine," said ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot in his introductory address, "we feel the weight of history. It is now one hundred years since scientists first understood that fusion energy was the power source for the Sun and stars and some six decades since the first tokamak was built in the Soviet Union... [...] We feel the need for both urgency and patience. We know we need a replacement for fossil fuels as soon as possible. [...] We are moving forward as rapidly as possible ... If we succeed, it will be worth all the time and effort that have brought us to this point." Speaking remotely from China, Luo Delong, the Head of the ITER Council, saluted "the entire ITER community—every Member, every Domestic Agency, every supplier company and contractor, and every staff member—for their dedication, perseverance, commitment, and hard work. If we are able to continue in this way I have great confidence that we will succeed." The moment that followed was both warm and solemn. President Macron of France, speaking from the Elysée Palace in Paris, defined ITER in terms of its promise. ITER is a promise of peace, he said—the proof that "what brings together people and nations is stronger than what pulls them apart." It is also a "promise of progress and of confidence in science" that, if successful, will be an energy that will "answer the needs of populations in all parts of the world, meet the challenges of climate change and preserve natural resources." And, perhaps above all, ITER is "an act of confidence" in the future. "ITER belongs to the spirit of discovery, of ambition. At its core is the conviction that science can truly make tomorrow better than today." The international dimension of ITER and its importance for world leaders was spectacularly illustrated by the messages that followed President Macron's address. On a giant screen in the ITER Assembly Hall, in the shadow of giant assembly tools, dignitaries from the seven ITER Members successively appeared to deliver their own message or convey that their heads of state or of government: the Council of the European Union and the European Commission as Host Member, China, India, Japan, Korea (with President Moon Jae-in appearing in person), Russia and the United States. All reaffirmed the unique nature of ITER and its importance for the future of humankind. (See box). To this major event, the world media gave the echo it deserved (see Press Clippings on the ITER website). One would have needed to live on another planet not to be informed that—on 28 July 2020—the ITER Project, the largest science collaboration ever established, had entered the decisive machine assembly phase. Watch the full video of the event here. See the new ITER machine assembly video in English or in French. Download the commemorative ITER Progress in Pictures photobook for 2013-2020 here. _To_179_Tx_