Can we really back out of a treaty like that? January 4, 2008Posted by gordonwatts in politics, science.
Ok — this is more of a question than a comment… Because I just don’t understand. The united states had an international agreement – a treaty – that specified how we would fund ITER — and that we would.
But during the latest budget cuts for science, ITER was totally zeroed out. How can we do that? Are we just saying “we don’t honor treaties” or something? Aren’t these things binding? At the very least it makes our country much harder to deal with – a serious lack of credibility.
Or is there something special about the ITER treaty that allows us to do this? An emergency escape clause, where the emergency definition is left up to the country?
A web search revealed the following:
- The treaty only came into effect on Oct 24. That didn’t last long, did it!?
- It is listed in the EU treaty database (who know they had such a thing!).
- PDF of the 20 pages of the treaty. Wonder if the USA had the same text?
- The treaty has a withdrawal clause — but it is designed to be possible only after 10 years – in short, they designed things to be stable during construction of the device. Which makes a hell of a lot of sense.
- There is mention of financial responsibilities, but the treaty contains no actual numbers – just references to budgets that must be submitted to the director general of ITER.
- The DOE ITER web site.
- US responsibility seems to be about 250 million (I may not be reading those numbers right).
- 160 for FY 2008.
- Can tell what we were obligated to give by the treaty from this.
So, it is a big mystery to me. If we were not to pay anything then we are clearly in violation of the treaty. Is that what has happened? My impression is the language in the spending bill from congress was very specific about not moving money around to fund ITER – so, they really want us to violate the treaty.
This isn’t totally academic, btw. This funding model — using international treaties — was one of the possible ways to arrange funding for the ILC. Of course, we may have just shown the way to making this useless.
If anyone knows how this is actually working, I’d appreciate a note in the comments or send me an email.