August 13th, 2007 05:47 EST
UN-backed scheme poised to bolster Middle East nuclear cooperation
A project backed by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has the potential to bolster nuclear cooperation in the Middle East.
The scheme, known as SESAME, entails the building of a giant machine generating intense light beams for advanced scientific and technological research, and a research facility is being built near Jordan’s capital, Amman.
“SESAME has a promising future, said Ana Maria Cetto, the IAEA’s Deputy Director General and Head of Technical Cooperation.
The agency is providing technical assistance worth $1 million over the next few years for the facility, which is slated to be completed in 2010.
Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey are members of the project, and earlier this month at a meeting at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, the SESAME Council accepted nominations from Iran and Iraq to join.
“We’ve finally passed the point of no return,” said Herwig Schopper, the project’s departing president, who sees the initiative as being able to both benefit the region and serve to attract and keep top scientists.
SESAME – which stands for Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications for the Middle East – operates under the auspices of the UN Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Synchronton facilities house huge particle accelerators which generate x-ray and ultraviolet light beams, and research could lead to advances in medicine, physics and other fields.
The IAEA has begun training future SESAME users and operators on safely and securely running the facility, and the agency’s representatives help to select recipients of scientific fellowships.
SESAME Council members will hold their next meeting in Cyprus later this year.