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The Israeli government has so far allocated $200,000 for joining the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME), in which its partners are Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority. Other countries, including Libya, Morocco, Oman, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Cyprus, are negotiating and may join the project next year.
The synchrotron accelerator is in the final stages of construction at the University of Balaka, about 30 kilometers from the Jordanian capital. When the building is completed, the nuclear accelerator - which will be the largest and most sophisticated in the Middle East - will be installed, and the facility will be ready in 2009. Due to be run under the direction of the US government and European Community, it will make possible a wide variety of scientific experiments, giving Israeli researchers their first access in the region to such a facility and chance to work together with scientists from neighboring countries.
The Finance Ministry announced on Monday night that the steering committee for the SESAME project met in Amman last week to discuss its budget and how to allocate it next year.
Eyal Epstein of the Finance Ministry's budgets division and Prof. Eliezer Rabinovich and Prof. Moshe Pasternack of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will represent Israel at the December conference in Amman. Israel will have veto power on any decision taken by the supreme council.
The steering committee agreed that payments would be set for each country according to a progressive scale depending on its economic development (gross domestic product, per-capita income and price levels, for example).
The idea for the synchrotron was initiated in 1997 by Italian scientist Sergio Povino. This led to the donation of a disused German particle accelerator called BESSY-1, which was upgraded and its power doubled for peaceful use in the Middle East. The Treasury said the idea was brought to UNESCO, which launched the project and set up a temporary council. BESSY-1's parts were shipped from Germany to Jordan with Japanese funding.