At its 42nd meeting held in Barcelona (Spain) on 10-11 July, the Council of SESAME unanimously welcomed and approved Iraq’s request to become an Associate Member of SESAME.
As a result, Iraq will become a Prospective Member, which is a stepping stone to full membership.
“My visit to SESAME on 8 June 2023 has convinced me that Iraq will stand to greatly benefit from membership, and that this would be the right moment for it to become a Member” indicated Naeem Alaboodi, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Head of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, in his letter to Rolf Heuer, President of the SESAME Council. “However, before doing so” he went on to say, “it would like to better familiarize itself with the governance, procedures and activity of this center, and it feels that the best way of doing this would be by first, taking on associate membership”.
Iraq has been following progress in SESAME for sometime now and its formal association with SESAME will be the culmination of this.
“The Council and all the Members of SESAME are delighted by Iraq’s decision” said Rolf Heuer, “and we look forward to further countries of the region joining the SESAME family both for the benefit the countries will derive from the many opportunities SESAME offers and for the benefit their experience will bring to SESAME” he continued.
“As an Associate Member of SESAME, Iraq will start having greater access to SESAME’s facilities for its national priority projects and more opportunities for international collaboration” added Khaled Toukan, Director of SESAME, “and we are pleased to already have first Iraqi users. They are co-investigators from two Iraqi institutes collaborating in a project of the Natural History Museum in the U.K. in which synchrotron radiation infrared spectromicroscopy on modern stromatolites  will be a tool for studying the ancient records of the earth’s fossils by using a unique set of complex stromatolites and thrombolites  collected at Ganau Spring in the northeast of Iraq.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been actively encouraging those of its Member States located in the SESAME region to seek membership of SESAME, and in the words of the Deputy Director-General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation of the IAEA, Hua Liu, “The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been actively supporting SESAME for more than 15 years now through its Technical Cooperation Programme. Iraq’s formal association with SESAME” he added ”will be very useful for Iraqi scientists to gain the required scientific knowledge in many different areas of science and applications using synchrotron radiation”.
The 42nd Council meeting was generously hosted by the Spanish synchrotron facility ALBA-CELLS. Spain is one of the Observer countries of SESAME.
 Stromatolites are layered accretionary structures formed in shallow water by the cementation of sedimentary grains of microorganisms.
 Thrombolites are similar to stromatolites but consist of clotted accretions.