A ceremony was held on 11 May in South Korea, to mark the end of the factory acceptance tests for the first vacuum vessel sector sub-assembly tool for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter), currently under construction at Cadarache in southern France. As part of its procurement contributions to the international Iter project, the Korean Domestic Agency is responsible for design and fabrication of the sector sub-assembly tools as well as 128 other purpose-built assembly tools. Its main contractor for the sector sub-assembly tools, SFA Engineering Corp, has contracted Taekyung Heavy Industries (THI) to supply fabrication of all structures, sub-assembly and testing, and on-site installation.

Iter's plasma chamber, or vacuum vessel, will be formed from nine 440t wedge-shaped steel sectors. The sector sub-assembly tools, each weighing around 860t,   are designed to support the weight of one vacuum vessel sector, two toroidal field coils and thermal shielding, which together weigh some 1,200t. Iter said, "Lessons learned on the realisation of the first tool will serve in the fabrication of the second, which has started now in Korea."

The first tool is being dismantled for shipment to Iter. The structural steel work and auxiliary components will be packed into 90 shipping crates and transported in five shipments between June and August. Installation will begin in the Assembly Building in September, with the installation of the base rails. The complete tool is expected to be in place by the end of the year. The installation work will mainly be carried out by THI's local contractor CNIM (France).

Kijung Jung, head of the Korean Domestic Agency, said: "This is a step forward for the procurement efforts for Iter in Korea and for the project as a whole. Like all Iter members, Korea's participation in Iter contributes to our industrial and scientific capabilities and positions our nation to be a future player of consequence in the promising domain of fusion."

The European Union is contributing almost half of the cost of constructing the Iter tokamak, with the other six Iter members (China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the USA) contributing equally to the rest. First plasma is planned for 2025 under a revised schedule established last year, with deuterium-tritium fusion experiments due to begin in 2035. Construction costs are expected to be around €20bn ($22bn).