Cooperative Monitoring Center

Twenty Years of Global Engagement

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Engaging the World Through Science and Technology

Since 1994 the Cooperative Monitoring Center (CMC) has provided technical and political experts a place to come together and explore how science and technology might help countries implement confidence-building measures, treaties, and other agreements. The premise was that if experts from competing countries understood more about the capabilities and applications of available monitoring technology, they would be less distrustful of one another. Scientists and engineers bring a different perspective to the discussion because they share the common language of science and a commitment to finding technological solutions based on empirical findings. Thus technological cooperation reinforces diplomatic initiatives, and in time more constructive relationships are established.

Twenty years later we find ourselves stewarding an approach that has matured since the CMC first opened its doors. That approach is oriented around three key functions:

  1. Building partnerships to develop cooperative technical solutions for bilateral and multilateral security problems,
  2. Creating a collaborative environment where participants can explore ideas and get direct hands-on experience with technology, systems, and analytical tools to develop an understanding of what technology can contribute to regional and global security, and
  3. Hosting a visiting research scholars program that brings together experts to explore technical solutions and ideas for increasing trust.

Cooperative technical solutions

Whenever possible, the CMC looks for opportunities to leverage technology in support of confidence building, tension reduction, and regional stability. Trust is built through mutually developed technical solutions, which are pursued cooperatively. Technical solutions differ from political solutions in that they can be tested before implementation; and because they are based on established principles, technical solutions can transcend political divisions and engender higher levels of confidence.

Direct experience

The CMC’s Training and Technology Demonstration Area (TTD) provides an open environment where participants can view, handle, and even test technologies used for arms control; nonproliferation; nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological security; border security; and remote monitoring. Visitors can apply new security and safety concepts through such venues as the Outdoor Test Facility—a test bed for border monitoring systems—as well as a mock Biosafety level 2-enhanced laboratory used to explore technical solutions for Biological Threat Reduction.

Visiting Research Scholars program

Scholars from many countries have come to the CMC to work on regional security problems. They conduct research on policy and technology challenges related to reducing mistrust between nations. They work with regional counterparts and with Sandia’s technical experts to explore technical methods for increasing trust. They develop proposals for advancing regional cooperation and take those proposals back to their countries, where they often form the basis for negotiations. Many CMC ideas have seen fruition in real-world technical engagements and project implementations.

The next twenty years

The need for cooperative monitoring and the use of science and technology for building trust has never been greater. Scientists and engineers are often able to identify ways that technology can be brought to bear on a diplomatic problem. That perspective can coax adversarial relationships toward cooperative projects that lead to productive partnerships. The addition of science and technology-based problem solving to the dialog between rival parties offers the best hope and chance for resolution; that is the CMC approach.