WASHINGTON—The U.S. fusion program must accept “an unprecedented degree of collaboration” with Western Europe, Japan and the Soviet Union if it is to achieve its current goals, according to government officials and the authors of a new report to Congress. Going it alone is too expensive and, besides, the money isn’t available.

That was the clear message from the Department of Energy and the congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) at a hearing last month before two subcommittees of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. The OTA report, “Starpower, the U.S. and the International Quest for Fusion Energy,” declared that the United States must spend considerably more than the $340 million now budgeted to meet independently its current goals in fusion research. (For an excerpt from the report, see p. 11.)

Designing a commercial reactor by the early part of the next century, the study said, would cost...

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