Sometime in 2013, Israel is expected to become the first non-European member of the Geneva-based European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) under a new open door policy regarding particle physics research.

Michel Spiro, President of the CERN Council, said at the time that the expansion was “a milestone in CERN history and a giant leap for particle physics,” highlighting “the increasing globalization of the field and the important role played by CERN on the world stage.”

CERN is best known for the giant particle accelerator known as the Large Hadron Collider which is located 100 meters underground on the border between Switzerland and France.  The Collider is used by physicists to study the smallest particles in order to better understand the biggest questions man has about the Universe.

On May 4th, the Israeli Knesset approved Israel’s membership in the nuclear body after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it reflected the “capabilities of Israel scientists and constitutes recognition of their ability.”  While Israel has had observer status in CERN since 1991, full membership will give it the right to attend restricted sessions such as those on the Hadron Collider.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Jewish state faced opposition to its membership from France and Switzerland. Turkey, whose application to join the 20-nation group is also currently under consideration is expected to be approved despite initial opposition from Greece.  

CERN’s expansion plans are expected to eventually include other nuclear powers such as the US, India and Russia.  According to CERN director-general Rolf Heuer, the decision creates “conditions that will enable CERN to play a full role in any future facility, wherever in the world it might be.”  He stressed that international co-operation agreements and protocols will be respected and retained.