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Atomic Exports Body Asked to Weigh Deeper Ties with Nonmember States

A multinational nuclear export body is being asked to consider offering deeper ties to some nations that are not members of the exclusive group, Reuters reports.

Israel -- which by policy does not confirm its estimated stockpile of 80 or more nuclear warheads -- could be first on the list, according to the wire service.

Members of the voluntary 48-country Nuclear Suppliers Group agree to restrict their atomic exports to nations that have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. However, a new Dutch paper argues that the nonproliferation aims of the body would be better served if it offers enhanced ties to certain nonmember states that fulfill certain criteria, according to the Monday article.

The confidential discussion paper was sponsored by the U.S., British and Czech Republic governments and was submitted for consideration at an NSG meeting in Vienna, Austria, last Thursday.

"With technology progressing at an ever increasing rate, globalized supply chains, and more and more countries developing nuclear and dual-use capabilities, the possibility of trade in nuclear related goods between governments not participating in the NSG is becoming more and more likely," the paper reads.

"In order to stay ahead of the curve, NSG's goals ... might be best served by an open-minded approach aimed at cooperation with non-NSG members," the Dutch Foreign Ministry document states.

The paper reportedly describes several kinds of "possible benefits" that could be granted to a nation already following the association's export rules. Such benefits might involve the exchange of data, access to the nuclear body's sessions and "facilitated export arrangements," which could mean engaging in some atomic commerce with NSG members.

Israel is the only nation not currently a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group that meets the yardstick of "adherence" to NSG export rules, though both Pakistan and India have suggested they also abide by the guidelines, according to the paper. All three countries possess nuclear arms outside the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. New Delhi was granted a waiver in 2008 to engage in some kinds of nuclear trade with NSG members.

One individual who participated in the Thursday meeting said member countries were asked to ready responses to the paper for discussion at upcoming sessions.

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