ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is a joint effort between the EU and six other countries (India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States) that officially began in 2006 with the aim of developing ways to create huge quantities of energy by reproducing the nuclear reactions in the sun, so-called nuclear fusion. Taking advantage of the Cadarache facility (south east of France) they will try to achieve the goal thorough the construction of a reactor.
Unlike traditional fission used in existing power plants, nuclear fusion involves the fusing of two atoms instead of splitting them, which theoretically should yield even more energy and produce less long-term nuclear waste.
The EU, as host party for the ITER complex, is contributing 45 % of the cost, with the other six parties contributing 9 % each. The estimated cost including construction, running costs and research is â¬18 billion.
Opposition to the project is lead by the anti-nuclear movement in France thorough the association called Sortir du Nucleaire (get out of nuclear power in French) who launched, among others, the campaign 'Stop ITER'. Against some arguments that the promoters and the mainstream media claim, they argue that it won't be safe because tritium constitutes a high risk in terms of water and air pollution and that won't be clean because there will be nuclear waste.
Finally, it has to be said that there is not widespread opposition against the project. This could be explained for several reasons: economic investments in the region, the project is said to be a research project (activists would be more focused in nuclear waste storage and disposal from existing plants), and the fact that in France as a country, nuclear power has a high level of acceptance in public opinion and lack of knowledge about the issues from the general public.