FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1, 2003
Sandia Labs-sponsored Cooperative Monitoring Center opens in Amman, Jordan
New center will develop solutions for expanding cooperation and collaboration among nations in the Middle East
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Shiyyab, director of the Cooperative Monitoring Center-Amman (dark suit with mustache), leads a tour of the facility during its recent inauguration. With him are, from left, Saad Hijazi, president of the Royal Scientific Society; Scott Davis, deputy director, Office of Nonproliferation Policy, National Nuclear Security Administration; Edward W. Gnehm, U.S. Ambassador in Amman; and (far right) Rashid bin Hassan, Prince of Jordan. Other dignitaries attending the ceremony stand in the background.
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Cooperative Monitoring Center-Amman (Jordan), modeled after Sandia’s Cooperative Monitoring Center, officially opened with a recent inauguration ceremony. Sandia germinated the idea for the new center, worked hard to bring it to reality, and continues to assist center staff to help it succeed.
The inauguration ceremony for the CMC-Amman was held in October with about 70 dignitaries in attendance including Jordanian Prince Rashid bin Hassan, U.S. Ambassador in Amman Edward W. Gnehm, President of the Royal Scientific Society Saad Hijazi, and several Jordanian government ministers and officials. Sandians Arian Pregenzer, Amir Mohagheghi and Laura McNamara of the Labs’ Cooperative Monitoring Center joined CMC-Amman director Maj. Gen. Mohammad Shiyyab at the ceremony.
Both Pregenzer and Mohagheghi said they are excited about the potential value the center can bring to the region.
“It’s an experiment. But there is a lot of hope and we are very optimistic this will have a positive impact,” Pregenzer said.
Mohagheghi said he is hopeful the new center will grow and develop its own solutions for expanding cooperation and collaboration among nations in the Middle East.
“There are, of course, border issues that need to be addressed, as well as water management issues, particularly associated with the Jordan River,” Mohagheghi said. “It’s important that they take ownership of these issues. If you keep providing solutions to them they won’t take responsibility for the problems.”
Both Pregenzer and Mohagheghi have traveled several times to Amman, Jordan, and have worked closely with the new center’s Jordanian staff members and to coordinate activities with government and agency officials in the surrounding community.
The new CMC-Amman will serve the region in much the same way Sandia’s CMC has promoted international cooperation. The new center’s objectives are:
- Promote the role of science and technology to help resolve nonproliferation, arms control, and other security issues
- Develop a cooperative-monitoring culture within the Middle East through education and training
- Deploy monitoring technology projects that allow multiple countries in the Middle East to experiment with the technology and to share their experiences
- Help regional security officials bridge the gap between technical and political issues.
Major activities at the center will include research and analysis to identify areas of mutual interest and to establish dialogue among experts; workshops to train Jordanian and regional participants on applications of technology for border security, resource management, arms control, explosives detection, and public health; and collaborations to develop new concepts for applying technology to these issues. Examples of current technology demonstrations at the CMC-Amman exhibit hall include border-control technologies, explosives, detection, environmental monitoring and assessment, commercial satellite imagery, sustainable land-use, and disease monitoring. Additional capabilities will be added as new projects develop.
Pregenzer said the contract to establish the center was negotiated in August 2002 and that the center has been slowly gearing up since then through a series of staff-training activities. Pregenzer said she was convinced the center was ready to fully operate following the success of a workshop this past July to introduce Jordanian participants to cooperative monitoring concepts, the advantages of cooperative approaches to security issues, and to familiarize them with a wide range of techniques and technologies for designing and implementing effective monitoring systems. Sixteen Jordanians representing civil defense, public security, and military organizations attended the workshop.
“The workshop was an effective training tool that demonstrated to the center’s staff, in essence, how to put on a workshop,” she said.
Located at the Royal Scientific Society
The CMC-Amman is located at the Royal Scientific Society, situated on an 85-acre picturesque site in northern Amman. The center occupies about 2,000 square feet on the third floor of one of the RSS buildings. Retired Jordanian Maj. Gen. Mohammad K. Shiyyab, a past attendee of Sandia’s annual Arms Control Conference, is the center’s director.
RSS engineers and scientists currently staff the center. Staff members are responsible for organizing future training workshops and developing cooperative technology projects. Depending on the needs of a particular workshop or project, the staff will draw upon the technical strengths of the 700-person RSS.
Two CMC-Amman engineers (instructors in computer science) spent six weeks at Sandia last year to learn about the operations of Sandia’s Cooperative Monitoring Center.
The RSS was established in 1970 as a not-for-profit national research and development institution. The society works with local, regional, and international research and academic institutions and organizations to promote technological and scientific improvements in the region.
Arian said while a number of factors pointed to selecting Jordan as the site of the new cooperative monitoring center, a major reason was that it is an Arab country that has recognized Israel. “We are trying to get them to develop their own ideas for solving regional problems,” she said. “In regard to border security, perhaps there can be an Israeli/Palestinian partnership.”
Said Mohagheghi: “CMC-Amman can be a place for sharing information; it is a neutral party.” And Amman, Amir added, “is a beautiful city.”
Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.
Sandia media contact:
Chris Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org, (505) 844-5550
Sandia Cooperative Monitoring Center contacts:
Arian Pregenzer, email@example.com, (505) 844-4967
Amir Mohagheghi, firstname.lastname@example.org, (505) 844-6910