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Johnson: Projects like JET and ITER are a "priority"

17/02/2017

UK will continue in EU fusion research

Johnson: Euratom withdrawal not end of JET and ITER

Helen Tunnicliffe

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UK SCIENCE minister Jo Johnson has confirmed that the UK will continue to participate in European fusion research following Brexit and the withdrawal from the Euratom treaty announced in January.

The Euratom treaty governs the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Under the treaty, the UK is involved in some vital research, including into fusion energy, in projects such as the Joint European Torus (JET) at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, and its larger French successor ITER. Many researchers expressed grave concerns about the withdrawal and the future of fusion research, in which the UK is a world leader.

In a statement given to the UK Atomic Energy Authority, (UKAEA), Johnson said that withdrawing from Euratom following Brexit was unavoidable as Euratom and the EU are legally joined. He said that the research at Culham is “rightly recognised as world class”.

“The UK supports Euratom, and we value international collaboration in fusion research and the UK’s key role in these efforts. Maintaining and building on our world-leading fusion expertise and securing alternative routes into the international fusion R&D projects such as the Joint European Torus (JET) project at Culham and the ITER project in France, will be a priority,” said Johnson.

He added that the UK government is working closely with the UKAEA management and board on the matter.

Claire-Louise Isted, editor of World Nuclear News, explored some of the potential concerns about the Euratom withdrawal in an online article for The Chemical Engineer last month. Johnson’s statement addresses many of their concerns.

Read more about JET and ITER in The Chemical Engineer’s article following a visit in 2014.

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