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Consortium Set To Sign Pact On ITER Nuclear Project

Group will build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor in France by 2015.

An international consortium including South Korea will next week sign a formal agreement to build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor in France by 2015, officials said Nov. 17. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) consortium will finalize the deal on Nov. 21 in Paris after nearly 10 years of informal and preparatory talks by South Korea, Russia, China, the EU, the U.S., India and Japan, the Ministry of Science and Technology said.

ITER, a fusion energy project worth 10 billion euros (US$12.8 billion) and expected to run over 30 years, will be built at Cadarache in southern France. It aims to provide a clean and limitless source of energy that can replace fossil fuel.

South Korea joined the project in June 2003 and is expected to pay about 9% of the $5 billion construction cost, Yonhap news agency reported. It will be represented by Science Minister Kim Woo-Sik at the signing ceremony, to be hosted by French President Jacques Chirac.

"The country's participation is significant, as it is a sign of South Korea securing a foothold in core thermonuclear power technologies," the ministry said. South Korea's interest in ITER reflects its efforts to secure alternative energy sources. It depends heavily on oil imports for energy.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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