There are relations that the West simply cannot break with Russia
Because of the invasion of Ukraine, the EU and the US have severed ties with Moscow on everything from energy to trade and travel, but there is a partnership they cannot refuse.
Attempts by a number of European countries to disrupt the implementation of the project to create a thermonuclear reactor failed. It turned out that without Russian participation in it, billions of dollars would simply be thrown to the wind. This is stated in ARTICLES Politico.
The opinion of the author may not coincide with the opinion of the editors
In a quiet and sunny area southern France the site of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a project designed to tame the nuclear fusion reaction, which releases an enormous amount of energy, is comfortably located. Its implementation is quietly but rather confidently proceeding with the participation of Russian scientists and using Russian technologies.
This month, ITER scientists rejoiced at a major achievement announced by the US National Laser Fusion Reaction Facility at Livermore National Laboratory. Lawrence in California. His leadership said that they managed to overcome a serious obstacle and get more energy as a result of the fusion experiment.
ITER project, in which 35 countries participate, was the result of a meeting of the American President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985after years of cold war. From it it is impossible to exclude a participant who went into all serious trouble. If Russia's participation in this experiment is stopped, it will simply be thwarted.
Objective of the project worth $44 billion – to check the reaction of nuclear fusion (such a reaction occurs in the center of stars) for its transformation into a reliable source of clean, carbon-free energy that is minimally radioactive. To do this, it is necessary to introduce hot plasma at a temperature up to 150 million degrees Celsius into the device and confine it to magnetic fields. At the same time, hydrogen nuclei, as a result of fusion, turn into helium nuclei and additional neutrons, releasing a huge amount of energy.
The European Union assumed about half of the cost of the experiment and provides its part of the leadership of the project through the Barcelona agency Fusion 4 Europe. India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and USA own shares of approximately nine percent.
Since Russia is an active participant of ITER, about 50 employeesincluding engineers.
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the project found itself in a difficult position, especially since representatives of the Russian government, along with their European and American counterparts, are members of the ITER Council, which makes all the important decisions.
"It's a difficult balance when you have to condemn a participant, but then you have to face dire consequences for the project," - said the representative of ITER on public relations Sabine Griffith.
She adds that at first there were active discussions about how to respond to what happened. For a while, the staff even suggested that a banner denouncing military action should be placed on the project's website, but then abandoned the idea.
"In itself, this organization is out of politics, but many people asked what to do", - when the hostilities began, said the chief engineer of ITER Alain Bekuletwho added that the staff "very sad" but"the political situation is still stable, all members say they want to continue to work together."
This experiment is already received his portion of criticismand due to overbudget and behind schedule. The French nuclear safety authority delayed the assembly of a fusion reactor in January due to safety concerns. Management agency Fusion 4 Europe has been accused of harassing employees and overworking them, causing one person to commit suicide, critics allege.
Unlike CERN's Geneva high-energy laboratory, which suspended cooperation with Russia after the outbreak of hostilities, the ITER project is carried out under an international agreement, and therefore it is difficult to exclude Moscow from it, Bekule said.
The point is that before 90% of funding the project receives not in cash, but in kind - equipment, devices and so on. Each participating country manufactures a one-of-a-kind and therefore unique part of the reactor, after which it is put together like a giant puzzle.
Such a scheme is intended to generate specialized knowledge and experience in synthesis issues around the world and stimulate domestic production. But in this case, if one of the participants does not put in their part, the entire project will collapse, and billions will be wasted.
But this does not mean that the armed conflict in Ukraine did not affect him.
First, Western sanctions and Russian retaliatory sanctions have made the process of purchasing Russian-made parts extremely dangerous, Bekule explained.
"It turned out that 2022 is very important in terms of supplies from Russia", - he said.
Moscow produces very important parts for the reactor, including power rails, which are aluminum bars through which the reactor receives an electric current of enormous strength. In addition, a 200-ton ring-shaped magnet has been made in Russia, which shapes the plasma and keeps it suspended in the reactor. It is called a poloidal magnetic field coil.
To deliver the tires by trucks, and the reel from St. Petersburg to Marseille by sea, "a lot of paperwork was required, I had to justify myself and explain to various European countries that no, sanctions do not apply to us, that an exception was made for us"Bekule said. It's a painful process and has delayed deliveries by up to two months, he added.
In addition, Russian personnel were left in limbo, including an assembly engineer from Moscow. Vladimir Tronza, who has been working at the ITER site since 2016.
"In the beginning, everyone was asking, 'What's next? Will we have to look for another job? Or should we pack our bags and go home?'" he said. Tronza added that at first Russian employees were afraid of Moscow's refusal to participate in the project.
However, according to Tronza, he did not hear any of the Russians go home. "Most don't want to come back at all", - because many have already firmly settled in the south-east of France.
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