Ten years after the start of construction in August 2010, ITER marked a new chapter in its long history. This historic moment was witnesses by distinguished guests, including French President Emmanuel Marcon, ITER’s Director-General, Bernard Bigot and heads of governments of countries being partners of ITER on 28 July 2020. The pandemic led to a hybrid celebration, both online and in person: the Council of the European Union and the European Commission as Host Member, China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States were there to join the celebrations.
President Macron, speaking from the Elysée Palace in Paris, defined ITER in terms of its promise. ITER is a promise of peace, he said—the proof that "what brings together people and nations is stronger than what pulls them apart." It is also a "promise of progress and of confidence in science" that, if successful, will be an energy that will "answer the needs of populations in all parts of the world, meet the challenges of climate change and preserve natural resources." And, perhaps above all, ITER is "an act of confidence" in the future. "ITER belongs to the spirit of discovery, of ambition. At its core is the conviction that science can truly make tomorrow better than today."
The first major component has been already installed (i.e. toroidal field coils) and others shipped from all over the world are waiting for their turn to be handled by the team of 3,000 participants.
"As we launch the assembly phase of the ITER machine," said ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot in his introductory address, "we feel the weight of history. It is now one hundred years since scientists first understood that fusion energy was the power source for the Sun and stars and some six decades since the first tokamak was built in the Soviet Union... [...] We feel the need for both urgency and patience. We know we need a replacement for fossil fuels as soon as possible. [...] We are moving forward as rapidly as possible ... If we succeed, it will be worth all the time and effort that have brought us to this point."
Each of the guests presented his/her position or acted on the behalf of their superiors stressing the importance of the device for human efforts in the future, following the introductory speeches of President Macron and Director-General Bigot. The ITER Assembly Hall huge screen and the giant assembly tools were the perfect scenery to depict the unique nature of ITER.