LONDON—A team of 40 scientists from the United States, Western Europe, Japan and the Soviet Union plans to begin work next spring on a three-year, $180 million effort to design the next large thermonuclear fusion experiment. If the participants accept the design, construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) could begin as early as 1993.

Meeting last month in Vienna, officials from each of the participants also agreed on a European site for the project. It will be housed in a new facility at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching, outside Munich. The site selection was a contentious issue, with the Americans arguing for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The compromise offer of Vienna, the home of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, was also rejected, but the Europeans did agree to balance their geographic victory with an advisory board that would be chaired jointly by officials...

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