Eleventh International Conference on Plasma Physics
Kyoto, 13-20 November 1986

Associate Director for Fusion Energy
Office of Energy Research
United States Department of Energy
Washington, D.C., United States of America

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to thank the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for asking me to give this address. I consider it an honour to be here, to be speaking to you - scientists of many races and nationalities united by a common effort to provide fusion power to the world. I am especially pleased to join you in honouring the memory of Lev Artsimovich, a man who contributed so much to the achievement of our goal.

This occasion is particularly meaningful to me, because it marks the 25th anniversary of my own involvement in fusion research. In 1961, as a young doctoral candidate in physics at MIT, I was fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity to choose my field of study under masters of almost all of the disciplines of physics. For a young man, the choice was bewildering. After much thought, I finally settled on a field for a most unscientific reason. That field was the relatively undeveloped - and at the time unprestigeous - field of plasma physics. The reason for my choice was a simple one. I learned that plasma physics might hold the key to unlimited energy for the people of the world. That possibility engaged the enthusiasm of a young man. I have never regretted that decision. Over the years, the science of plasma physics has grown into a major scientific field and has provided all of the professional satisfaction and excitement a scientist could desire. Moreover, my primary motivation for choosing plasma physics - the benefit that might one day flow from the science - has been strengthened as the reality of the promised contribution to the future well-being of humanity has become more certain.

I believe that this motivation is a distinguishing characteristic that unites fusion scientists. It is widely recognized that all scientists are united by their common professional endeavours. This is certainly true in fusion research. However, in working with fusion scientists and engineers from many countries, I have found a stronger bond than merely sharing scientific skills - a bond that comes from applying those skills in the service of humanity.

This lecture honours the memory of one of our fraternity. A man who exemplified dedication to this higher purpose. Lev Artsimovich will always be remembered as a giant in the development of fusion power. His scientific contributions were certainly important, and yet, his stature rests on more than this. He was a giant because of his wisdom, courage, skill, and, most of all, his dedication to our common purpose.

Fortunately, he was not alone in these qualities. Throughout the history of fusion development there have been a number of scientist/statesmen who shared the dream of harnessing fusion power, but who also saw the task was beyond the capability of their own laboratory. More importantly, these men had the wisdom to see that - in practical if not in absolute sense - the task was possibly beyond the capability of their own nation.

Over the years, men like Igor Kurchatov, Lev Artsimovich, Evgenij Velikhov, Edward Teller, David Rose, Hans Otto Wüster, Donato Palumbo, Koji Husimi, Tatsuoki Miyajima, and others have advocated international co-operation in the development of fusion power. Moreover, they had the courage to act to make co-operation possible. In honouring these men for their wisdom, we must not ignore their courage. Advocating co-operation takes wisdom. Acting upon it takes courage.

I really began to appreciate the degree of courage required of them as I prepared for this address. Since Artsimovich is identified with international co-operation in fusion, I began to reflect on the very first international meeting on fusion. It took place at Harwell in Great Britain, in 1956 - thirty years ago. The date is important. It was a time of great political tension and rivalry in the world. I have only to mention the places: Indochina, Korea, Formosa, Berlin, Hungary, and Suez, to recall the occasions of confrontation. To heighten the tension - if that were possible - the major world powers had developed and were racing to deploy the new military technologies of the hydrogen bomb and the ICBMs, and the world was on the verge of the space race with the Soviet preparations to launch Sputnik. In a small way, fusion research mirrored these tensions and rivalries. National programmes worked in rivalry and secrecy to achieve the first fusion reaction and thereby obtain for their country a significant technological advantage - unlimited, economical energy or, perhaps, even some military advantage. On an even more human scale, key figures within national programmes struggled to expand their own laboratory's share in a programme that they believed would surely make them Nobel Laureates.

Fortunately, then as now, the leaders of the major nations were seeking ways to improve relations and reduce tensions, and scientists/statesmen were at the forefront of the initiatives. In 1953, President Eisenhower made his Atoms for Peace proposal at the United Nations. By 1954, the United States and the Soviet Union had agreed to consider exchanging atomic energy information, and by 1955, the first Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy was held. At this Conference, Homi Bhabha of India first alerted the world at large to the potential of fusion research. In 1956, Igor Kurchatov took the next step by openly discussing Soviet fusion work while visiting Great Britain. The result was that by 1958, the time of the Second Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, the situation of secrecy and rivalry in fusion had changed. The papers of Artsimovich, Teller, Biermann, Thonemann, and Alfven summarized previously hidden research in fusion. As a result of these events, the European Countries, the United States, and the Soviet Union agreed to open magnetic fusion research.

Historians of the period record many political factors leading to the change. However, I believe it was mainly a result of the wisdom, courage, and dedication of both national political leaders and the scientific leaders in the national fusion programmes. The scientific leaders realized that fusion would be achieved most directly by uniting the scientific talents of the world. The political leaders recognized that co-operation on fusion - an effort in the interest of all mankind - could help to reduce world tension and rivalry. They had the courage to take the risk and try to establish international co-operation in fusion in spite of political tension and voices of caution in their own countries. They had the wisdom to create useful co-operative mechanisms, such as the IAEA, and the dedication to live up to these commitments for almost three decades.

It is well to reflect on our beginnings and to realize that our scientific success today rests on a remarkable foundation. It is simply that in fusion research, national political leaders and fusion scientific leaders have been able to transcend their own parochial interests in an effort to achieve a plentiful supply of energy for future generations.

Today, we have a situation similar in many ways to that which existed in 1958. Political tensions are high and the power and number of modern weapons has raised the premium on reducing those tensions. On a political level, world leaders are struggling with major issues, such as nuclear disarmament. As in the 1950s, they are also looking toward co-operation on fusion as a means to reduce tensions and increase understanding. Recently, Andronik Petrosyants, Chairman of the Soviet State Committee on the Utilization of Atomic Energy, acknowledge this when he said that, in the view of the Soviet Union, scientific co-operation has great political significance in that it helps to strengthen peace and lessens the danger of new global war.

On the scientific level, fusion leaders are beginning to realize that in order to exploit our successes and complete the development of fusion power, a new degree of collaboration may be necessary that will allow us to build facilities that go beyond the resources available in any one national programme.

These factors led to the discussion of fusion at the Geneva Summit and at the recent Reykjavik meeting. The Reagan-Gorbachev initiative to expand fusion co-operation and the positive reactions of other world leaders to the initiative have provided the political mandate and opportunity to accelerate progress in our field. It urges us to combine our resources in new ways for mutual benefit. The issue for us to decide is "How should we, the international fusion community, respond to this opportunity?"

I would like to discuss this question in the remainder of this lecture. First, it is clear that there is a technical imperative for closer co-operation. This was clearly recognized by Artsimovich from the very beginning. At Geneva, in 1958, he said: "This problem (of fusion) seems to have been created especially for the purpose of developing close co-operation between scientists and engineers of various countries, working at this problem according to a common plan, and continuously exchanging the results of their calculations, experiments, and engineering developments." In the years since these words were uttered, the nations of the world have developed a remarkable degree of co-operation in fusion. The most outstanding example is, of course, the common fusion programme developed by the European Communities. Within the European Atomic Energy Community, the words of Artsimovich have been borne out to the letter, and the obvious benefits are clearly evident in the achievements of the JET facility.

On the wider international scene, numerous co-operative projects and exchanges have also advanced the field. We have created effective mechanisms for co-operation through the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the USA/Japan and the USA/USSR bilateral agreements in fusion, and, most recently, the Fusion Working Group of the Economic Summit countries. Although fusion co-operation outside of the European Communities has not reached the stage of working to a common plan described by Artsimovich, there has been significant movement in that direction over the last few years.

The science of fusion is by no means finished. The remaining scientific steps will require new, expensive facilities and equally expensive operation of these facilities. The relatively new technology research will require perhaps more expensive facilities. If it existed, the common plan envisioned by Artsimovich would allow this work to be shared, duplication to be avoided, and the available technical expertise in the world to be used to best advantage. The practical benefit of this was recognized by Donato Palumbo in his 1980 Artsimovich Lecture. He questioned whether each of the four big programmes could proceed individually to address next generation fusion issues, and at the same time continue other necessary activities along a wider front. A common plan would allow a broader attack on these difficult problems within available resources. With this in mind, the Heads of State of the Economic Summit nations set up the Fusion Working Group (FWG) to examine the fusion development plans of participating countries, in an effort to identify opportunities for working to a common plan.

The Fusion Working Group has agreed that the remaining problems of fusion can be summarized by four critical issues. These issues are: improving magnetic confinement concepts to make them more amenable to practical application, investigating the scientific problems associated with a burning plasma, developing materials suitable for fusion reactors, and solving the problems of fusion nuclear technology. The work of the FWG in joint planning to resolve the four critical issues is not finished, but already its practical effects are evident.

The FWG has examined national plans for addressing the burning plasma issue. They concluded that 4 machine like the European NET, or the Japanese FER, is needed in the late 1990s to complete the scientific base and to address the technical feasibility of fusion. They concluded that it was valuable and feasible to attempt a short pulse ignition experiment in the early 1990s to gain realistic operating experience with a burning fusion plasma. The United States of America has taken on this latter task and has produced a conceptual design for a Compact Ignition Device (CIT) which, depending on details of funding, will operate as early as 1993. The Europeans and Japanese have continued to develop designs for a facility with the broader technical aim that might be ready for construction decisions at about the time CIT is completed.

The FWG has also examined the national plans in fusion nuclear technology and materials. In the latter area, their deliberations were aided greatly by a detailed study of the IEA members' fusion materials programmes by an IEA Blue Ribbon Panel, chaired by Professor Amelinckx of Belgium. In both areas, it was found that a co-ordinated international programme was possible and desirable.

Finally, in a recent meeting of the Co-ordinating Committee of the USA/USSR Co-operative Agreement on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, it was agreed to begin the process of joint planning in order to improve the co-ordination of the US and the USSR fusion programmes.

So, in small steps, using all the mechanisms of co-operation established over the years since Artsimovich made his statement in 1958, we appear to be moving toward his common plan. However, the movement is not without difficulty. I have already remarked on the courage of Artsimovich in making this proposal, considering the time at which it was made. The courage demanded of us is becoming more evident as we face the difficulty of actually implementing his proposal on a world scale.

The difficulty is not technical. The above examples show that technical agreement can be reached if we wish to do so. The real difficulty was well described by Hans-Otto Wüster in testimony to the US Congress in 1985 on the process of achieving a unified European fusion programme. He noted that international collaboration on the scale achieved in Europe is the result of the general insight that, because of resource limitations, research in separate nations could not be as successful as a joint effort. As Wüster so pungently remarked, "After all, if you have a common aim and want to do something, youd will find a way to give in to reason." If the world fusion programme has lagged behind the European Communities in achieving a common plan, it is probably due to lack of agreement on the necessity to work more closely together to achieve a common aim within our total financial and human resources. Reaching agreement on the necessity of working together is difficult, because it involves many non-technical factors. It involves the personal ambitions of scientists, as well as institutional ambitions of laboratories. The dedication to a common aim must be very strong to motivate an appropriate balance between such ambitions and more efficient pursuit of our common goal.

In considering how the fusion community should respond to the opportunity presented by the Geneva Summit, we need to look more closely at this question. What aim do we have in common and is it necessary that it be achieved jointly? The heightened necessity for co-operation was perceived as long ago as 1977. David Rose - a man who can justly be called the father of fusion technology - became concerned about the possibility of reaching the goal of fusion power. His worry was not primarily technical, although he recognized - perhaps more clearly than anyone at the time - the real technical problems that would have to be overcome to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion. No, he foresaw that the solution of these problems would require large, expensive facilities. He knew that these would also take a long time to plan, and operate. Finally, he knew that the practical benefit of fusion would be in doubt until the end of this expensive and long term programme. His worry was that national governments would be reluctant to spend such large sums for these facilities - let alone even more for larger, but essential support programmes - without clearer indication that fusion will work and be more attractive than fission breeders or bulk solar power. His conclusion was that a world fusion programme conducted according to a common plan was needed if these facilities were to be built.

His arguments defining the necessity of intensified co-operation led Director General Sigvard Eklund, of the IAEA, to request the views of member governments on the possibility of greater collaboration, and, in particular, their consideration of how to take the major step after JET, JT-60, T-15, and TFTR - the step that would complete the scientific base and demonstrate the technical feasibility of fusion. In response, very much in the tradition of Artsimovich, Academician Velikhov proposed that a joint group with participants from the European Communities, Japan, the United States, and the USSR should be formed to investigate a project to build a tokamak reactor experiment.

This proposal led, in 1978, to the organization of the INTOR Workshop. Over the last eight years, this Workshop, under the leadership of Sigeru Mori, Gunter, Grieger, Weston Stacey and Boris Kadomtsev, has clarified the nature and magnitude of a facility that could complete the scientific base and address the technical feasibility of fusion. Through their pioneering efforts and the steadfast support of the IAEA, we have developed a worldwide appreciation of the key role in fusion development and the technical requirements of such a facility. The INTOR work has been the essential ingredient in creating a world consensus on a major step in fusion.

During the past year, discussions based largely on the INTOR work have taken place among the Economic Summit nations within the framework of the Fusion Working Group, between the USA and the USSR in bilateral meetings, and among key figures from all the world's major fusion programmes in the Director General's International Fusion Research Council. All parties have reached a consensus that a device of the INTOR type, generally known as an Experimental or Engineering Test Reactor (ETR), is the common midterm goal of the world's fusion programmes. As a result, we finally seem to have arrived at agreement on the common aim that Wuster.

However, it remains to be seen whether we will find a way to give in to reason. During the development of the ETR concept through the INTOR Workshop, all the participating nations put a considerable, if not principal, effort on defining their own national versions of this next step - NET in Europe, FER in Japan, OTR in the Soviet Union, and FED, or more recently TIBER, in the United States. Having come so far and having surmounted so many problems in international collaboration, one could take comfort in the thought that the passage of time will allow a coalescence of these technical approaches. And yet, I cannot ignore the sense that history is pressing upon us to make a decision on how we wish to take this next critical step in fusion development. We should all recall Professor Husimi's gentle reminder in his 1982 Artsimovich memorial lecture, "...the public has for a long time been eagerly waiting to see the production of fusion energy". I am also spurred in a not so gentle way by the knowledge that the world has spent between the equivalent of US $15 billion and US $20 billion dollars to date in the quest for that production of fusion energy. Once we have the technical capability, every year that we avoid a decision to move forward to the next step adds roughly another billion dollars to that total. For this reason, I believe we must take every opportunity to move forward as soon as the technical capability becomes available.

Based on recent technical progress, I suspect the technical capability to build an ETR can be attained within a few years. Therefore, it seems reasonable that we should use the opportunity presented by the Geneva initiative to move as far as possible in preparing for an ETR. If the existence of five different technical approaches prevents near term agreement on a common project, we should consider taking the steps necessary to coalesce those technical approaches. If we lack the complete technical base to support commitment to construction, let us consider co-ordinating the research of our programmes to provide the missing information. Preparing one design and co-operating to prepare a sound technical base would not guarantee that an ETR would be built in common. However, it should help guarantee both that it would be built and that whatever nation or group of nations undertook the project would have a maximum chance at success.

Political leaders seem to recognize the need for collaboration in such tasks. In the recent meeting in Reykjavik, President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev agreed on a renewed effort to reach agreement on specific actions in expanding fusion co-operation. I am very pleased that on October 30, the United States transmitted a formal proposal to the Economic Summit Nations and the Soviet Union. The proposal was to join together to prepare a conceptual design report (CDR) for an ETR. It recommended that we adopt the suggestion of Director General Hans Blix that we build on the INTOR process to carry out the work. It also advocated that the research and development necessary to support the CDR be undertaken co-operatively through existing agreements. The proposal indicated that the United States was prepared to commit sufficient resources to accomplish this task within three years. If accepted, this proposal could lead to a major focusing on world resources on preparing for an ETR - the most widely accepted element on a common fusion plan.

Lev Artsimovich offered us the vision of scientists in all nations working together on the fusion problem according to a common plan. Just as the vision of a world served by fusion power engaged the enthusiasm of a young man twenty-five years ago, the vision of a world united in a common fusion effort engages the enthusiasm of an older man today. However - perhaps because of age - it is an enthusiasm tempered by realism. Without in the least minimizing the difficulty of the remaining problems of fusion science and technology, I would suggest that attempting to merge our futures in a common plan may be a more difficult task. I do not know if we can succeed. But then Artsimovich did not know that we would ever overcome the difficult scientific problems to reach reactor-grade plasma conditions in a tokamak. He persevered in spite of the scientific difficulty and uncertainty. I believe we, too, should persevere in spite of the human difficulty and uncertainty. Lev Artsimovich and Hans-Otto Wüster would surely have recognized the difficulties that must be overcome. Remembering what they attempted in their lives, I am tempted to think they might have advised us in words similar to those of Professor Husimi in his 1982 Artsimovich lecture: "Difficulty does not cause despair; difficulty invites courage, particularly when the goal is splendid."

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