International Activities



  • Fusion can be said to have been born internationally, at PPPL, in 1951 when Lyman Spitzer read about fusion being accomplished in Argentina and wondered how that was done, starting the U.S. fusion program. On May 11, 1951, he met with representatives of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), Division of Research, to describe his ideas for producing a controlled thermonuclear reaction in a device he coined the name "Stellarator". He then submitted his ideas to the AEC in a report dated July 23, 1951 which proposed the Stellarator as a device designed to obtain power from the thermonuclear reactions between deuterium and either deuterium or tritium.
  • Informal basis of future collaboration was established by person-to-person connections, exemplified by Mel Gottlieb and his counterparts in the next decades.
  • On August 1, 1954, the Princeton University ‘Project Matterhorn’ team under Spitzer published the first comprehensive paper (278 pages) on fusion power reactors.
  • On October 26-27, 1954, the AEC held a conference on thermonuclear reactions at Princeton University. At this conference, Edward Teller voiced his concerns regarding the stability of the magnetic confinement of plasma.
  • On July 28, 1955, the AEC decided to declassify the fact that the U.S. was actively engaged in the controlled thermonuclear program. There was increasing concern about plasma instability and a growing realization that thermonuclear power was a very long range prospect.
  • On August 8-20, 1955, at a press conference associated with the United Nations International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy held in Geneva, the AEC Chairman, Lewis L. Strauss confirmed that the U.S. had a program on controlled thermonuclear reactions.
  • In 1958, fusion international was given a big boost when declassification proceeded in parallel with and as a result of significant international remarks from senior technical leaders abroad, as well as the recognition that we weren’t going to make a nuclear weapon from fusion at any time soon.
  • In 1958, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was founded with an objective to facilitate international cooperation for nuclear fusion R&D activities.
  • On August 30, 1958, the U.S. and the United Kingdom announced the declassification of their controlled thermonuclear programs. A thorough presentation of the U.S. thermonuclear research program was given in 19 papers at the United Nations Second International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (held in Geneva on September 1-13, 1958).
  • On September 12, 1958, the Cockcroft-Libby arrangement provided an easy basis for US-UK collaboration over many years.
  • In 1961, the first IAEA Conference on Plasma Physics and Controlled Nuclear Fusion Research was held in Salzburg, Austria. This conference is now called the IAEA Fusion Energy Conference (FEC) and is held every two years. The U.S. was the host for this conference in 1971 (Wisconsin), 1982 (Baltimore-organized by PPPL), and in 1990 (Washington, DC-organized by PPPL). The 17th FEC was held in October 1998 in Yokohama, Japan.
  • In 1972, the IAEA established the International Fusion Research Council (IFRC) to report on the status of world fusion research.
  • On June 21, 1973, the Nixon-Brezhnev Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (PUAE) Agreement initiated our long-standing, comprehensive, mutually valuable US-Russia fusion bilateral program.
  • On February 6, 1974, the Protocol was signed between the U.S. AEC and the USSR State Committee for the Utilization of Atomic Energy on Joint Projects in Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion and Plasma Physics.
  • In October 1977, the U.S. began initiation of the International Energy Agency (IEA) fusion implementing agreements and its project-oriented approach to multilateral collaboration.
  • In 1977, David Rose, with Mel Gottlieb, and other world fusion leaders began exploration toward international collaboration, giving birth to the Soviet-IAEA initiative--INTOR.
  • In 1977, the Fukuda-Carter initiative was the beginning of our long-standing collaboration with Japan with a formal agreement signed on May 2, 1979.
  • Versailles Summit Fusion Working Group, 1982-1985, focused on common future planning, leading to the concept of an engineering test reactor, the basis for ITER.
  • Fusion Working Group, , focused on common future planning, leading to the concept of an engineering test reactor, the basis for ITER.
  • At the November 1985 Geneva Summit, the Gorbachev-Reagan initiative led to the ITER Conceptual Design Activities (CDA) which began in April 1988 and were successfully completed in December 1990 and carried out jointly by the U.S., the European Union, Japan and the USSR under the IAEA auspices.
  • On March 13, 1986, the U.S. established formal fusion relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
  • On December 15, 1986, the U.S. formalized long-standing, informal fusion relations with EURATOM.
  • On November 19, 1987, the U.S. established formal bilateral fusion relations with Canada.
  • On December 7, 1987, the Ambassador to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations System Organizations in Vienna responded to the November 2, 1987 letter from Dr. Hans Blix, Director General of the IAEA, to acknowledge that the U.S. Government is pleased to accept the IAEA’s invitation to participate in the quadripartite ITER activity as described in the terms of reference and recommendations addressed in the letter.
  • On April 21-22, 1988 in Vienna, the ITER Conceptual Design Activities (CDA) began and were successfully completed in December 1990.
  • On July 21, 1992, the European Union (EU), Japan, the Russian Federation and the U.S. signed a 6-year ITER Engineering Design Activities (EDA) Agreement.
  • On June 16, 1995, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) in Moscow for Cooperation in Approved Projects to Facilitate the Nonproliferation of Weapons and Weapons Expertise. In addition -- ANNEX I to the MOA between DOE and the ISTC was also signed for "Cooperation in Approved Projects to Facilitate the Nonproliferation of Weapons and Weapons Expertise for the GLOBUS-M Project" (with PPPL and the Ioffe Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia).
  • On June 14, 1996, the U.S. established formal bilateral fusion relations with the Republic of Korea.
  • On September 22, 1998, the U.S. signed a unilateral Agreement for Continued U.S. Participation in the Process Established by the ITER Agreement among the four parties (EU, Japan, Russia and the U.S.) on Cooperation in the Engineering Design Activities for ITER. This Agreement allows U.S. participation for a one-year period from July 22, 1998.
  • In 1998/1999, the U.S. is pursuing a new international arrangement in which fusion program leaders would meet annually to consider a full range of international collaborative work. With this addition, there would be a complete framework in place for joint fusion work.
Last modified: 3/5/2016 8:06:11 PM