A Quarter-Century of Global Technical Engagement

Engaging the World Through Science and Technology

Since 1994, the Cooperative Monitoring Center (CMC) has provided technical and political experts a venue to explore how science and technology can help various 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. In addition to political involvement, scientists and engineers render their expertise and their commitment to pioneering technological solutions. Thus, technological cooperation reinforces diplomatic initiatives and enables constructive relationships.

Twenty-Five years later, we find ourselves stewarding a matured approach, which 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 advance regional and global security
  3. Hosting a visiting research scholars program that assembles experts to explore technical solutions and ideas for increasing trust

Cooperative Technical Solutions

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

Technology Training and Demonstration

The CMC’s Technology Training and Demonstration Area (TTD) provides an open environment where participants can observe, handle, and test technologies used for arms control; regional agreeements; 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) and a mock biosafety level-2 (enhanced) laboratory, which is used to explore technical solutions for biological threat reduction.

Visiting Research Scholars (VRS) program

Scholars from around the world come to the CMC to confront regional security problems. Working with regional counterparts and with Sandia’s technical experts, they research the political and technological challenges related to reducing mistrust between nations. They develop proposals for advancing regional cooperation, which often form the basis for negotiations in their home countries. Many ideas developed at the CMC have seen fruition in real-world technical engagements and project implementations.

The Next Twenty-Five 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 mitigate a diplomatic problem. This perspective can coax adversarial relationships toward cooperative projects that lead to productive partnerships. Moreover, integrating science and technology-based problem solving to the dialogue between rival parties offers a viable option for resolution. This is—and shall continue to be—the CMC approach.