On 6th January 2003 the SESAME project moved decisively forward when His Majesty King Abdulla II of Jordan laid the cornerstone for the future SESAME building at Al-Balqa' Applied University, Jordan.
Also present at the ground-breaking ceremony was the Deputy Director-General, Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Werner Burkart, members of the Jordan Cabinet, UNESCO officials and other dignitiaries. The Government of Jordan has provided the site and agreed to fund the construction of the building, estimated at US$6-8 million; it will house the upgraded BESSY I light source donated by Germany, already in Jordan. During the ceremonies, King Adbullah bestowing the al Istiklal medal on Professor Herwig Schopper (former Director-General of CERN) and President of the Council of SESAME which has replaced the International Interim Council set up in 1999. Khaled Toukan (Minister of Education of Jordan) and Dincer Ulku (Hacettepe University in Turkey) will continue as Vice-Presidents. Several countries outside the Middle East, Observers to the Interim Council and are expected to reconfirm their Observer status in the new Council. These include Armenia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK, and the US.Now that the ground-breaking ceremony of the building to host the SESAME Centre has taken place, construction of the building is expected to start in a few weeks. The building should be ready by the end of 2004. Hopefully, the machine will be operating by the end of 2006 or beginning of 2007. Also, it is foreseen that the microtron (first pre-accelerator from BESSY I which is already in Jordan) be installed in a provisional place and used for the staff training. Since SESAME really only started in 1998, these time schedules are satisfactory given the complexity of this international project.
Speech by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, at the official launching of SESAME