The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) project is all but certain to be hosted in France after the European Union (EU) reportedly agreed to pay some €5 billion to resolve the long-standing deadlock with Japan over the project.

With a contribution said to be five times more than any other backers, the site favoured by the EU — Cadarache in southern France — is set to be home to the first operational fusion reactor when the Iter reactor is completed, due in 2015.

Details of the deal, which will see Japan concede its efforts to have the project sited at Rokkasho, were apparently leaked to Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.

According to the reports, under the terms of the deal Europe would take on 50% of the construction costs, estimated at €10 billion, while Japan would provide 10% and the remaining costs shared between the USA, Russia, South Korea and China.

Although the deal has yet to be formally approved by the other partners, Japan is likely to have the right to nominate the secretary general of the project, provide 20% of the staff, and host facilities such as a materials testing centre.

A statement on the deal is expected at a meeting of EU competitiveness ministers on 7 June.

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