On 22 September Energy Secretary Bill Richardson agreed to extend US participation for at least another year in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. The agreement does not commit the US, which has been a party to the international project for 11 years, to fund or support construction of an experimental fusion reactor. However, Richardson said it will allow ongoing research and development to continue, including testing of prototype components, and provide time to negotiate a new agreement on international fusion collaboration.