President Bush, heeding recommendations from the fusion science community, the National Research Council (NRC), and the Department of Energy (DOE), authorized the US to rejoin the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project. In a 30 January statement issued by the White House at the same time Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham was announcing the ITER decision at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Bush said, “The results of ITER will advance the effort to produce clean, safe, renewable, and commercially available fusion energy by the middle of this century.”

The decision is an apparent victory for Ray Orbach, director of DOE’s Office of Science, who has pushed hard for several months to get the administration to rejoin ITER. In a 3 February briefing announcing the president’s proposed fiscal year 2004 budget, Orbach described fusion as an “energy source with unlimited amounts of potential” that could produce both electricity for commercial use and,...

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