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ITER, a major international infrastructure dedicated to fusion research, will be built in France in order to validate and develop thermonuclear fusion as a new abundant resource of energy. In this article, elementary physical properties of high temperature plasmas confined by magnetic field are reviewed with respect to our technical capabilities, thus explaining step by step the form, functionality, requirements and in particular the size of the ITER reactor. The text also includes a few relevant historical remarks, and mentions possible paths towards fusion energy as well as the prospects of this unique challenge that requires cutting edge science and technologies.
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