Nuclear Politics

UK Will Not Be Able To Contribute To Iter Without Brexit Deal, Says Government

By David Dalton
23 August 2018

23 Aug (NucNet): If the UK and the EU fail to reach an agreement on Brexit terms, the UK will no longer be a member of the Euratom R&T programme, no longer be a member of Fusion for Energy, and will no longer be able to collaborate on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) project through the EU, the government said today.

In a paper on nuclear research if there is no Brexit deal, the UK government said it is committed to continued domestic research and other international partnerships to ensure the UK retains its “world leading position” in this field.

The paper said the UK is on track to have bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements in place with “key priority partners” ahead of Brexit in March 2019. This will allow for continued, unimpeded civil nuclear trade and nuclear research cooperation with these countries.

But the UK will no longer be a member of Fusion for Energy, the organisation responsible for providing the EU’s contribution to the multinational Iter fusion project in France.

This means UK businesses will not be able to bid for contracts to work on the Iter project.

However, the UK government said today it would be willing to discuss opportunities for UK researchers, companies, and institutions, to collaborate on “this critical experiment”.

The government also said that in the event of no deal, it will continue to provide funding for its share of Joint European Torus (Jet) costs until the end of 2020, subject to the EU Commission extending the Jet operating contract until then.

Jet is the world’s largest operational magnetically confined plasma physics experiment, located at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, UK.

The European Commission has said it wants to extend the Jet operating contract until 2020, but a final decision has not yet been taken.

The UK Atomic Energy Agency sees Jet experiments as critical to supporting Iter construction and planning.

When the Jet operating contract ends, the UK government is willing to “discuss options to keep Jet operational until the end of its useful life,” the government said.

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