UK’s Brexit Plans Call for Leaving EU Nuclear Agency

From Scientific American:

Depending upon whether and how the UK negotiates a way back in to the organization, the move could endanger British participation in the world’s largest fusion experiment, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in Cadarache, France. It could also curtail operations at the Joint European Torus (JET), a nuclear-fusion facility based in Culham, UK. The facility is a half-sized version of ITER and acts as a test-bed for it; it currently receives around €56 million ($60 million) annually from Euratom.

“It is simply bonkers to leave Euratom,” says Steven Cowley, a nuclear fusion researcher who until last year was director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, which hosts JET.

“This has happened without discussion or analysis. It’s left us in shock. Not the behaviour of a transparent government,” tweeted Scientists4EU, a lobby group originally set up to campaign against Brexit.

The Culham Centre’s current director, Ian Chapman, has told Nature that — after meeting with government officials — he is sure that the UK has no intention of drawing back from nuclear research and development or civil nuclear programmes. “There’s no indication that this means we’re stopping our nuclear program, far from it,” says Chapman, who is also chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Agency.

The UK will have to change how it participates in these programs, however. “There’s still a commitment from the government to think about how we can put in place arrangements to continue running JET, and to continue participating in the ITER program,” Chapman says.

“The nuclear industry remains of key strategic importance to the UK and our withdrawal from the Euratom Treaty in no way diminishes our nuclear ambitions”, a spokesperson from the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says.

Euratom predates the formation of the EU. But the two are legally entangled, and experts had …

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