Nuclear Suppliers Group
The NSG is a voluntary association of nuclear supplier countries that works to prevent nuclear proliferation by implementing guidelines for nuclear and nuclear-related exports.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports. The NSG first met in November 1975 in London, and is thus popularly referred to as the “London Club” (“Club de Londres”).
- Permanent Observer: European Commission.
Procedures & Early Developments
The NSG requires IAEA safeguards as a condition of supply, with full-scope safeguards as the norm; national control laws and procedures; physical protection against theft for sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle; restraint of enrichment and reprocessing plant assistance to countries of proliferation concern; a common control list; export restraint to regions of conflict and instability; and information-sharing among members.
The Guidelines for Nuclear Transfers, initially agreed upon by supplier States in 1977 and transmitted to the IAEA Director-General in January 1978, envisage additional export control restraints beyond those provided for in the NPT. These restraints prohibit the use of exports from being used in any nuclear explosive device; mandate restraint in the transfer of facilities and technologies used for reprocessing, uranium enrichment, and heavy water production; require physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities; and mandate control of re-transfer of items and acceptance of the Zangger Committee Trigger List.
At its 1992 Warsaw meeting, the NSG agreed on the Guidelines for Transfers of Nuclear-Related Dual-Use Equipment, Material and Related Technology and the List of Nuclear-Related Dual-Use Equipment and Materials and Related Technology, which includes 67 categories of dual-use items.
Also at the 1992 Warsaw meeting, the NSG adopted the Statement on Full-Scope Safeguards, requiring the application of IAEA safeguards on all source and special fissionable materials in recipient States’ current and future nuclear activities.
The 1993 Lucerne NSG meeting endorsed an amendment to the NSG Guidelines that requires IAEA safeguards on all current and future nuclear activities as a condition for any significant new supply commitments to NNWS. Transfers to NNWS without a full-scope safeguards agreement shall be authorized only in exceptional cases when the transfers are deemed essential for the safe operation of existing facilities, and only if safeguards are applied to those facilities. This policy does not apply to agreements or contracts drawn up on or prior to 3 April 1992. The updated NSG Guidelines were published as IAEA document INFCIRC/254/Rev 1, Part 1 and 2.
The NSG called on nuclear supplier countries that have not yet adopted the full-scope safeguards policy to do so as soon as possible. In return, the NSG would attempt to ensure that indirect supply through third countries does not undermine this policy.
The 1993 Lucerne meeting also adopted an arrangement that established the procedure for joining the regime. The procedure calls for the NSG members to reach a consensus about the invitation of a new State and requires the new State to accept the NSG Guidelines in their entirety (i.e., both Parts 1 and 2 of INFCIRC/254/Rev 1). Countries adhering only to Part 1 may be granted the right to attend the meetings, although they may not participate fully before their adherence to Part 2. The invitation of observers, whether they are countries or international organizations, requires the consensus of all members.
On the basis of recommendations by the Technical Working Group on conditions of supply, the NSG reviewed the Guidelines for Nuclear Transfers (INFCIRC/254/Rev.1/Mod. 1, Part 1) and adopted several changes in order to respond to new concerns in the field of nuclear proliferation. The Group agreed to strengthen the retransfer provisions of the Guidelines and to incorporate a new provision underlining the importance of members’ satisfying themselves that their transfers would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
The Technical Working Group was mandated to continue reviewing the nuclear-related items included in the Annex to Part 1 of the Guidelines. A new Technical Working Group was created to review the Annex to Part 2 of the Guidelines.
The NSG decided to restructure its arrangements for exchanging information on proliferation threats with the objective of further enhancing the members’ ability to respond to these threats. The NSG affirmed the principle of transparency and agreed that members should continue their efforts to brief nonmembers on the aims and activities of the Group.
The NSG, the Zangger Committee, and the NPT
The Zangger Committee’s provisions are closely tied to Article III.2 of the NPT. In contrast to Zangger Committee members, NSG members are not required to be parties to the NPT, but they all must adhere to instruments that contain equally binding commitments. The NSG Guidelines are designed to strengthen implementation of the nonproliferation undertakings contained in those legal instruments.
The NSG and the Zangger Committee differ in the scope of their trigger lists of especially designed or prepared items (EDP) and in the export conditions for items on those lists. Concerning the scope of those lists, the Zangger list is restricted to items falling under Article III.2 of the NPT. As an export condition for the items on the trigger lists, the NSG has a formal full-scope safeguards requirement as a condition of supply, with the exception of India as it was granted a waiver from these requirements on 6 September 2008. However, even before this waiver some sales to India and Pakistan took place: Russian and Chinese contracts with India and Pakistan that were in place before the establishment of the NSG continued to be honored, while Russia sold nuclear fuel to India citing safety issues. Otherwise, all members of the NSG and the Zangger Committee apply full-scope safeguards as a condition of supply for trigger list items to NNWS parties to the NPT.
The NSG arrangement covering exports of dual-use items is a major difference between the NSG and the Zangger Committee. As dual-use items cannot be defined as EDP equipment, they fall outside the Zangger Committee’s mandate. As noted above, the control of dual-use items has been recognized as making an important contribution to nuclear nonproliferation.
The NSG Guidelines apply to transfers to all NNWS. The Zangger Committee memoranda only apply to transfers to NNWS not party to the NPT, as compliance with NPT obligations fulfills the criteria of the Zangger Committee understandings. In 1994, the NSG also strengthened its re-transfer provisions to require government-to-government assurances to support the stipulation that a supplier’s consent be obtained for the re-transfer of trigger list items from any State that does not require full-scope safeguards as a condition of supply. At the same time, the NSG also adopted the so-called “nonproliferation principle,” whereby a supplier, notwithstanding other provisions in the Guidelines, should authorize a transfer only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The nonproliferation principle seeks to cover the rare, but important cases where adherence to the NPT or to a nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty may not by itself be a guarantee that a State will consistently share the objectives of the treaty or that it will remain in compliance with its treaty obligations.
Despite these differences between the two regimes, they serve the same objective and are equally valid instruments of nuclear nonproliferation efforts. There is close cooperation between the NSG and the Zangger Committee on the review and amendment of the trigger lists.
Factors taken into account for membership include the following:
- The ability to supply items (including items in transit) covered by the annexes to Parts 1 and 2 of the NSG Guidelines
- Adherence to the Guidelines and action in accordance with them
- Enforcement of a legally based domestic export control system which gives effect to the commitment to act in accordance with the Guidelines
- Full compliance with the obligations of one or more of the following: the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Treaties of Pelindaba, Rarotonga, Tlatelolco, Bangkok, or an equivalent international nuclear nonproliferation agreement
- Support of international efforts towards nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and of their delivery vehicles
NSG members pursue the aims of the NSG through adherence to NSG Guidelines that are adopted by consensus, and through an exchange of information, notably on developments of nuclear proliferation concern. The first set of NSG Guidelines governs the export of items that are especially designed or prepared for nuclear use. These include: (i) nuclear material; (ii) nuclear reactors and equipment therefore; (iii) non-nuclear material for reactors; (iv) plant and equipment for the reprocessing, enrichment, and conversion of nuclear material and for fuel fabrication and heavy water production; and (v) technology associated with each of the above items. The second set of NSG Guidelines governs the export of nuclear-related dual-use items and technologies (items that have both nuclear and non-nuclear applications), which could make a significant contribution to an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activity.
The NSG Guidelines are consistent with, and complement, the various international, legally binding instruments in the field of nuclear nonproliferation. These include the NPT, and the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), the African Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba) and the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone (Treaty of Bangkok).
The NSG Guidelines aim to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, while not hindering international trade and cooperation in the nuclear field. The NSG Guidelines facilitate the development of peaceful nuclear trade by providing the means whereby obligations to facilitate peaceful nuclear cooperation can be implemented in a manner consistent with international nuclear nonproliferation norms. NSG members commit themselves to conditions of supply, in the context of the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
The NSG aims to ensure that nuclear exports are carried out with appropriate safeguards, physical protection, and nonproliferation conditions, and other appropriate restraints. The NSG also seeks to restrict the export of sensitive items that can contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The NSG, taking into account the work already done by the Zangger Committee, agreed on a set of Guidelines incorporating a trigger list. These were published in 1978 as International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Document INFCIRC/254 (subsequently amended) to apply to nuclear transfers for peaceful purposes to help ensure that such transfers would not be diverted to an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activities. There is a requirement for formal government assurances from recipients to this effect. The Guidelines also include a requirement for physical protection measures agreement to exercise particular caution in the transfer of sensitive facilities, technology, and weapons materials―and strengthened re-transfer provisions. In doing so, the Guidelines recognize that there is a class of technologies and materials that are particularly sensitive because they can lead directly to the creation of weapons-usable material. The implementation of effective physical protection measures is also critical to help prevent the theft and illicit transfer of nuclear material.
At the 1990 NPT Review Conference, the committee reviewing the implementation of Article III made a number of recommendations that had a significant impact on the NSG’s activities in the 1990s. These included the following recommendations: that NPT parties consider further improvements in measures to prevent the diversion of nuclear technology for nuclear weapons; that States engage in consultations to ensure appropriate coordination of their controls on the exports of items, such as tritium, not identified in Article III.2 but still relevant to nuclear weapons proliferation and therefore to the NPT as a whole; that nuclear supplier States require, as a necessary condition for the transfer of relevant nuclear supplies to non-nuclear weapon States (NNWS), the acceptance of IAEA Safeguards on all their current and future nuclear activities (i.e., full-scope safeguards, or comprehensive safeguards).
The endorsement at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference (NPTREC) of the full-scope safeguards policy already adopted by the NSG in 1992 showed that the international community believed this nuclear supply policy is vital to promote shared nuclear nonproliferation commitments and obligations. Specifically, Paragraph 12 of the decision on “Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament” at the 1995 NPTREC states that full-scope safeguards and international, legally binding commitments not to acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices should be a condition for granting licenses for trigger list items under new supply arrangements with NNWS.
The final document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference reaffirmed Paragraph 12 of the decision on “Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament” and recognized the value of export restrictions to prevent the further proliferation of nuclear weapons.
At the beginning of the 1990’s it became apparent that export control provisions then in force had not prevented Iraq, a party to the NPT, from pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program, which later prompted UN Security Council action. A large part of Iraq’s effort had been to acquire dual-use items not covered by the Guidelines and then to build materials within Iraq needed for a nuclear weapons program. Iraq’s program gave substantial impetus to the NSG’s development of its dual-use Guidelines. In doing so, the NSG demonstrated its commitment to nuclear nonproliferation by ensuring that items like those used by Iraq would only be used for peaceful purposes. These items would remain available for peaceful nuclear activities subject to IAEA safeguards, as well as for other industrial activities that would not contribute to nuclear proliferation.
Following these developments, the NSG decided in 1992 to establish Guidelines for transfers of nuclear-related dual-use equipment, material, and technology (items that have both nuclear and non-nuclear applications), which could make a significant contribution to an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activity. These dual-use Guidelines were published as Part 2 of INFCIRC/254 to establish a framework for consultation on the dual-use Guidelines, for the exchange of information on their implementation, and for procurement activities of potential proliferation concern; to establish procedures for exchanging notifications that have been issued as a result of national decisions not to authorize transfers of dual-use equipment or technology, and to ensure that members do not approve transfers of such items without first consulting with the State that issued the notification The guidelines also serve to make a full-scope safeguards agreement with the IAEA a condition for the future supply of trigger list items to any non-nuclear weapon State. This decision ensured that only NPT parties and other States with full-scope safeguards agreements could benefit from nuclear transfers.
Verification and Compliance
The NSG regime is a voluntary association, not bound by a treaty, and therefore has no formal mechanism to enforce compliance. The NSG guidelines are applied both to members and non-members of the NSG. As practiced by NSG members, export controls operate on the basic principle of cooperation with restrictions as the exception. Few NPT parties have been refused controlled items: this has occurred when a supplier State had good reason to believe that the item in question could contribute to nuclear proliferation. Almost all rejections by NSG members of applications for export licenses have concerned States with unsafeguarded nuclear programs.
Point of Contact
Belgium will chair the NSG for the 2020-2021 year.
On 31 January, China stated that India must sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty before China will allow India to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, halting further progress for India’s admittance to the group.
From 20-21 June, the Nuclear Suppliers Group held its 29th Plenary Meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan and chaired by Ambassador Kairat Sarybay of Kazakhstan. The meeting highlighted efforts to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, increase understanding of the group’s objectives, and prepare for the 2020 NPT Review Conference.
From 14 to 15 June, the Nuclear Suppliers Group held its twenty-eighth Plenary Meeting in Jurmala, Latvia. The NSG reaffirmed support for the full implementation of the NPT and for the continued implementation of the JCPOA. The NSG also released updated control lists.
On June 23 and 24, The Nuclear Suppliers Group held its twenty seventh Plenary Meeting in Bern, Switzerland. In a released public statement, the NSG strongly condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear test and welcomed the continued implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
During the Plenary Meeting, India was unsuccessful in its attempt to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. China led the opposition against India’s entry; the situation has become a source of tension between the two countries.
On 6 December, Russia reaffirmed its support for India’s entry into the NSG and assured it would raise the issue with China at the 15th RIC foreign ministerial meeting.
On 21 March, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated his objective for the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit is to gain membership in the NSG. On 19 May, Pakistan submitted its formal application for membership.
On 7 June, Prime Minister Modi and President Barack Obama met in Washington, D.C to discuss India’s readiness to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
On 23 and 24 June, the Nuclear Suppliers Group held its twenty-sixth Plenary Meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea. A public statement was released during the meeting where the NSG welcomed the JCPOA and deplored the January nuclear test by the DPRK. The NSG confirmed that Switzerland will assume the Chairmanship of the NSG from 2017 to 2018 and Switzerland’s plans to host the next plenary.
During the Plenary Meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea, India was unsuccessful in its attempt to become the newest member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. A block of nations led by China opposed India’s entrance into the group.
On 8 November, the Nuclear Suppliers Group Part 1 and 2 Guidelines were revised and updated. Part 1 addresses guidelines for nuclear transfers and Part 2 addresses guidelines for nuclear-related dual-use equipment, materials, software, and related technology.
On 11 November, the Nuclear Suppliers Group held a special meeting in Vienna to discuss criteria for India’s entry. China continued to block India’s entry into the NSG, citing the need for a non-discriminatory solution to admit non-NPT members.
During the 2015 NPT Review Conference (27 April-22 May 2015), Ambassador Rafael Mariano Grossi (Argentina) delivered a statement to Main Committee II on behalf of the NSG, addressing the activities of the Group since the 2010 Review Conference and calling for cooperation in nuclear export controls.
On 3-5 June, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, led by Argentinian Ambassador Rafael Mariano Grossi, held its 25th Plenary Meeting in Bariloche, Argentina. Topics of discussion included the DPRK’s nuclear program, Iran nuclear negotiations, the outcome of the 2015 NPT Review Conference and the NSG’s relationship with India.
On 26-27 June, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, led by Argentinian Ambassador Rafael Mariano Grossi, held its 24th Plenary Meeting in Buenos Aires. Points of discussion for the committee included Argentina’s role in chairing the NSG, DPRK’s nuclear program, international outreach efforts, informational materials for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, and the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India.
On 13 – 14 June, the 23rd Plenary Meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group took place in Prague, chaired by Ambassador Veronika Kuchyňová Šmigolová of the Czech Republic. Mexico and Serbia attended as NSG Participating Governments for the first time. In its public statement, the NSG noted the proliferation implications of the DPRK’s nuclear program, the DPRK’s 12 February nuclear test, and Iran’s nuclear program with grave concern.
At the Plenary, the NSG considered implementing the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India, agreed to launch a new and revised NSG public website, and discussed NSG outreach efforts. The Plenary adopted 28 amendments to the NSG Control List and will request the IAEA publish all 54 agreed amendments in a revised INFCIRC/254/Parts 1 and 2.
During a visit to Turkey on 8 October, the President of India sought support for a permanent membership to the NSG.
On 15 October, India and the United States raised objections in the NSG over China’s proposed sale of two nuclear reactors to Pakistan. They believe it violates the norms established by the NSG.
On 3 May, Australia publicly committed to supporting Indian membership in the NSG.
On 21-22 June, the NSG held its 22nd Plenary Meeting in Seattle. The meeting was chaired by the Netherlands, Mexico and Serbia attended as observer states. In its public statement, the NSG noted concerns regarding the nuclear proliferation programs of Iran and the DPRK, approved a paper to outline outreach to non-party states, discussed the NSG’s relationship with India, and reiterated the importance of keeping its lists updated in accordance with technological developments.
The Seattle Plenary agreed to offer Mexico NSG membership after the completion of an intersessional procedure. It also agreed to offer Serbia NSG Membership following completed consultations with the government of Serbia.
On 15 September, Mexico was admitted to the NSG, thus expanding membership to 47.
On 23-24 June, the NSG held its 21st Plenary Meeting in Noordwijk, Netherlands. In its public statement, the Group discussed current trends in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons through export controls on nuclear material, dual use material, as well as other technologies and software.
NSG members expressed their sympathy for the nuclear devastation that took place in Japan in March 2011 and welcomed global efforts to strengthen nuclear safety. The participants highlighted the existing challenges, such as proliferation threats presented by Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Syria. It also decided to continue consideration of “all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India.”
The Group agreed to strengthen its guidelines on transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies and called on all states to “make best efforts” to ensure exports of technologies and goods do not promote the proliferation of nuclear weapons. In addition, the members emphasized the importance of keeping the NSG’s lists up to date with technological developments, including a review of adherence to the Additional Protocol, set forth by the 2006 Brasilia Plenary.
On 26 July, the current Chairman of the NSG from the Netherlands issued a Note Verbale to the IAEA discussing Member States’ guidelines for the export of nuclear material, equipment, and technology. The note informed the IAEA that the Member States of the NSG decided to amend paragraphs 6 and 7 of the Part 1 Guidelines to emphasize (inter alia):
- Suppliers should “exercise a policy of restraint” when transferring materials “usable for nuclear weapons”
- Suppliers should “consult with potential recipients to ensure” nuclear materials and facilities transferred “are intended for peaceful purposes only”
- Special Arrangements should be made when transferring materials used for the enrichment of uranium, ensuring they will not “be modified or operated for the production of greater than 20% enriched uranium”
On 24 October, the Foreign Minister of France spoke on the amended export rules, emphasizing that the state planned to continue adhering to exemptions for India set forth by the NSG in 2008.
On 14 November, China reported that its new 1,000 MW reactor had “passed safety inspections and was ready for use.”
On 9 March, Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau reaffirmed his country’s interest in pursuing a nuclear power program raising the issue of an NSG exemption for Israel.
On 24-25 June 2010, the NSG held its 20th Plenary Meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand, chaired by Ambassador Jennifer Macmillan, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations Office and Other International Organisations in Vienna.
At the plenary, the group heard briefings on developments related to non-NSG states, and continued consideration of the implementation of the Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India that exempts the state from the requirement of the IAEA comprehensive safeguards agreement as a condition of nuclear trade.
Regarding the demand for civil nuclear power the group reaffirmed its obligation to address proliferation concerns without hampering important prospective nuclear trade relationships. In addition, the group stressed the benefits of licensing based on NSG guidelines, control lists, and enforcements. Group members also agreed to strive for the strengthening of guidelines dealing with the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies (ENR).
The NSG member-states discussed the implementation of UNSC resolutions and their relevance to the purposes of the NSG. In order to inform of developments within the Group, to assist partner nations with enhancement of their export controls and to facilitate adherence to the NSG Guidelines, the group mandated that the Chair and other NSG members maintain contact with non-participating governments and international organizations.
Despite the high-profile nature of the issue, the potential sale of two additional reactors from China to Pakistan was not on the 2010 NSG plenary meeting agenda.
The group delayed talks on the Additional Protocol as condition of nuclear trade in favor of completing negotiations on proposed enrichment and reprocessing guidelines. The group, however, did not reach consensus.
The guidelines, which were introduced in late 2008, would allow Argentina and Brazil to receive enrichment and reprocessing items without adhering to the Additional Protocol, on the grounds that they participate in the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC), a bilateral safeguards agency established in 1991.The possible exemption of these states from adherence to the Additional Protocol in the draft guidelines would leave South Africa as one of two remaining NSG member states that continues to object to the Additional Protocol as a condition for supplying enrichment and reprocessing items.
Turkey expressed fundamental opposition to the proposed enrichment and reprocessing guidelines on the grounds that they would further restrict access to nuclear material, equipment, and technology beyond restrictions outlined in the NPT.
The 20th annual plenary meeting concluded with the NSG taking note of briefings on developments concerning non-NSG states and agreeing on the value of ongoing consultation and transparency in regard to the nuclear-related activities of these states.
During a state visit to India on November 6-9, U.S. President Barack Obama announced U.S. support for India’s joining of the NSG.
On 3 March, the IAEA formally approved the Additional Protocol (AP) to the Indian safeguards agreement, which differs on several levels from previous APs concluded between the Agency and other states. As of June, the India Specific Safeguards Agreement (ISSA) still had to be ratified. On 11 May, representatives of the Indian government met with the NSG Troika (Germany, Hungary, and South Africa). At the June Plenary, the NSG addressed the reporting and consultations with India, “bearing in mind India’s voluntary commitments.”
The NSG held its 19th Plenary Meeting in Budapest on 11-12 June. The Hungarian Ambassador to the UN in Vienna, Györgyi Martin Zanathy, chaired the meeting. The NSG approved Iceland as its 46th member. The discussions focused on the proliferation implications of the DPRK nuclear test on 25 May and those of the Iranian nuclear program, multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle, and national implementation of UNSC resolutions relevant to the purposes of the NSG. The NSG agreed to continue to work to strengthen its guidelines regarding to enrichment and reprocessing technologies (ENR), equipment, materials, and facilities.
During the meeting, the Turkish delegation argued that Middle Eastern States would suffer under any sort of regulations that imposed an export ban on items for uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing to countries without such capabilities, even under a criteria-based rule. According to the delegation, places like the Middle East would be considered a danger for nuclear proliferation and all States would be denied access to enrichment technology. The meeting failed to reach a consensus on enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology guidelines.
On 8 July, at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, G8 officials announced that they agreed “to implement” draft NSG rules on the export of enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology beginning in 2010. This was planned to take place “on a national basis” pending NSG’s adoption of final rules. The draft rules tentatively would bar India from having access to enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology due to the nation’s failure to sign or ratify the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). According to G8 officials, this is being done to urge the NSG to expedite the adoption of final rules.
The NSG held its 18th Plenary Meeting in Berlin on 22-23 May. Ambassador Viktor Elbling of the German Federal Foreign Office chaired the meeting. Members debated a draft text of guidelines to govern the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technology and equipment (ENR) but failed to reach a consensus. This was a continuation of discussion on the same topic from a Consultative Group meeting held in Vienna in April. A number of NSG countries including Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the Republic of Korea expressed interest in developing commercial uranium enrichment.
The U.S. changed its position and supported a criteria-based approach for ENR exports to countries without indigenous capabilities. Consensus could not be achieved on the inclusion of subjective factors such as projected effects on regional stability or the rationale for a country’s pursuit of enrichment or reprocessing programs. Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa argued that any subjectivity compromises the right of non-discrimination in nuclear trade enshrined in Article IV of the NPT. Furthermore, Brazil and Argentina remain firmly opposed to making the IAEA Additional Protocol a condition of supply.
On 6 September 2008, at an NSG meeting in Vienna, India was granted a waiver from the NSG guidelines that require comprehensive international safeguards as a condition of nuclear trade. Consensus was achieved after overcoming concerns expressed by a number of countries, but especially by Austria, Ireland, and New Zealand,
The NSG agreed to several minor changes to the waiver text proposed by the United States. The most important was the incorporation of a reference to the 5 September statement made by India’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, highlighting India’s moratorium on nuclear testing and its no-first-use policy. A number of countries stated that their understanding of the waiver was that they would not transfer ENR equipment to India and that all members of the NSG would take India’s compliance with its commitments into account before agreeing to any nuclear transfers.
In the U.S., the House and the Senate approved the agreement on 27 September and 1 October, respectively. Secretary of State Rice pledged that the U.S. will make it the “highest priority” to achieve a decision at the NSG to prohibit the export of ENR to non-members of the NPT. On 8 October, U.S. President Bush signed the legislation to enact the U.S.-India nuclear deal.
During an NSG meeting on 19-20 November, progress seamed to have been achieved on rules restricting transfers of ENR. The U.S. had demanded that exports should use “black box” technologies, wherein only the supplier can access the technology, but Canada had initially opposed the provision. Brazil had also opposed making the Additional Protocol a condition for ENR transfers.
The NSG held its 17th Plenary Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa on 19-20 April. Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty, the South African Special Representative for Disarmament, chaired the meeting. The plenary discussed developments and challenges to nuclear export controls, including ways to assist in the implementation of UNSC Resolutions 1718 (DPRK) and 1737 (Iran). Throughout the year NSG members continued to discuss possible criteria for governing the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technology and equipment, and they debated whether or not to adopt the IAEA Additional Protocol as a condition of supply. The 45 participating governments could not reach a consensus on how to deal with the three NPT non-signatories. The issue of granting India a special exemption was notably absent from the plenary agenda.
During a Consultative Group meeting in November in Vienna, U.S. officials briefed NSG members on the details of the U.S.-India nuclear agreement. France and Russia declined to provide the group with more information regarding their future intentions for cooperation with India, and it was suggested that all future Indian exceptions should require the same nonproliferation standards as the agreement with the U.S.
The 16th Plenary Meeting of the NSG was held in Brasilia, Brazil from 1–2 June. The meeting was chaired by Ambassador José Artur Denot Medeiros, the Brazilian Special Representative for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. The plenary took stock of the developments since the 2005 Oslo plenary and the Extraordinary Plenary Meeting in Vienna in October 2005. In doing so, NSG members exchanged information on and analyzed current proliferation challenges; called on all states to exercise extreme vigilance and make best efforts to ensure that none of their exports of goods and technologies contribute to nuclear weapons programs; and discussed the value of continued review of trigger and dual-use lists, and the lists of producers of sensitive technologies and related items to ensure the appropriate control of unlisted items that could be used, directly or indirectly, in programs of concern. NSG members also recognized the crucial role of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 in developing an effective mechanism to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related materials to or from states and non-state actors world-wide. They welcomed the extension of the mandate of the 1540 Committee for a further period of two years.
NSG members also exchanged information on current proliferation issues, focusing primarily on the Islamic Republic of Iran. In this regard they expressed support for the efforts of the IAEA in fulfilling its mandate in Iran and called on the government of Iran to cooperate fully with the agency. The members also expressed support for various processes underway to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.
In order to further strengthen their national export controls, NSG members adopted a number of measures, including revised guidelines for NSG information sharing; means to incorporate the outcomes of the NSG workshop on sensitive technologies into outreach activities; an amendment to Part 1 of the NSG guidelines to include especially designed or prepared valves for use in enrichment plants; and to continue the Consultative Group discussions on the Additional Protocol.
While the plenary could not agree on a number of issues, NSG members agreed to continue discussion on non-member adherence to NSG Guidelines so as to ensure wider implementation of comprehensive control systems; further strengthening of the Guidelines with respect to special controls on sensitive exports; and whether NSG internal procedures should be reviewed or clarified for enhancement of information.
With regard to the controversial U.S.-India nuclear cooperation agreement, NSG members discussed a possible NSG-India relationship on civilian nuclear cooperation and decided to continue to examine the issue at the next regular NSG Consultative Group meeting. Under current NSG guidelines, India is not eligible to receive major nuclear exports since it has not accepted IAEA safeguards on all its nuclear facilities. The United States is seeking to make an exception in the application of the NSG restrictions, and to make similar changes to U.S. legislation.
The fifteenth Plenary Meeting of the NSG took place from 23-24 June in Oslo, Norway. The meeting was chaired by Ambassador Roald Naess of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo. At this meeting, Croatia was approved by the plenary as the 45th participating government to the NSG, effective 15 July 2005.
The plenary took note of the developments since the fourteenth Plenary Meeting in 2004. Members reiterated a strong commitment to non-proliferation despite the lack of substantive outcome at the NPT 2005 Review Conference. Members also exchanged information on the current proliferation challenges, specifically naming the cases of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran.
During the meeting the NSG agreed to establish a “procedure towards suspending, through national decisions, nuclear transfers to countries that are non-compliant with their safeguards agreements.” In addition, it was agreed that the “supplier and the recipient states should elaborate appropriate measures to invoke fall-back safeguards if the IAEA can no longer undertake its Safeguard mandate in a recipient state.” Finally, NSG members agreed to “introduce the existence of effective export controls in the recipient state as a criterion of supply for nuclear materials, equipment and technology and a factor for consideration for dual use items and technologies.”
NSG members also agreed to continue to place a high priority on continued discussions of the Additional Protocol as a condition of supply, as well as discussions to help further strengthen NSG guidelines with respect to enrichment and reprocessing technologies.
The NSG held its fourteenth Plenary Meeting in Goteborg, Sweden from May 27-28th. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Richard Ekwall, Director, Department for Strategic Export Controls, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Stockholm. At this meeting Estonia, Lithuania, Malta, and the People’s Republic of China were approved as new participants. Their new status will take effect on June 10, 2004. Delegates welcomed Libya’s voluntary decision to forgo the development of a nuclear weapons program. Participants also shared their concerns with the situation in both the DPRK and Iran. They stressed the importance of both States acting in compliance with their IAEA obligations. NSG members adopted the following guidelines, inter alia, to improve national export controls: establish a “catch-all” mechanism to control items not on trigger lists, strengthen the annual information exchange between members, reinforce the NSG’s contacts with non-partners, and strengthen the relationship between the NSG and the IAEA. The plenary also considered the following issues: conditions for the supply of nuclear and dual-use items on control lists and the suspension of the supply of nuclear items following decisions taken by the IAEA Board of Governors regarding a state’s non-compliance with NPT Safeguards.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group held its thirteenth Plenary from May 19-23 in Busan, South Korea. The Chairman was South Korean Ambassador, Chun Yung-woo, with 37 out of 40 NSG members participating, and the European Commission attending as a permanent observer. The meeting primarily focused on the situations in North Korea and Iran, stressing the need for “increased vigilance to prevent North Korea from obtaining nuclear material and technologies” and calling on States to “prevent North Korea from trying to find loopholes in the international nonproliferation system.” In regard to the Iranian nuclear weapons program, the members urged Iran to “resolve all outstanding questions about this program.” While NSG members underlined the need to ensure that “peaceful uses of nuclear energy are not to be hampered,” they also called for continued dialogue with countries outside the NSG to “prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials and equipment.” The Russian delegation demanded that Israel’s reported nuclear weapons program be addressed, stating “Israel presents a greater nuclear threat to the Middle East than does Iran.”
The 2002 Plenary Meeting of the NSG was held on the 16-17 of May in Prague, Czech Republic. This meeting was chaired by Ambassador Pavel Vacek, the Czech Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna. The Member States of the NSG welcomed Kazakhstan as its newest participating country and mandated the Chair to continue the dialogue with the non-NSG countries such as China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, and Israel that have developed nuclear programs and are potential nuclear suppliers, with a view to cooperate with those countries to strengthen the global nonproliferation regime and apply export controls. The plenary made a reference to the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States and agreed that the NSG members would continue efforts to prevent and counter nuclear terrorism. The NSG also acknowledged the need for effective export controls and strong support for the anti-terrorism measures being undertaken by the IAEA. In that context, it emphasized the importance of the requirement of IAEA full-scope safeguards as a condition of supply, strengthening of physical protection of nuclear materials and nuclear facilities, and prevention of illicit trafficking of nuclear materials. Member States also agreed to find new ways to increase information-sharing capabilities among themselves and called on countries that have not yet done so, to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA and Additional Protocol and to follow NSG Guidelines.
The annual Plenary Meeting was held in May in Aspen, Colorado. A new procedural arrangement to improve the effectiveness of the group was approved and a standing intercessional body, the Consultative Group, was created. This body is tasked with holding consultations on issues associated with guidelines on nuclear supply and the technical annexes. The NSG mandated the chair to pursue a dialogue with non-member States, and in particular to continue contacts with Kazakhstan, China, Egypt, India, Iran, and Pakistan. The Chair was also invited to open a dialogue with Indonesia, Malaysia, and Mexico, and to consider making recommendations for a dialogue with transshipment States.
The 2000 Plenary Meeting was held in June in Paris. Members endorsed the provisions of the IAEA’s 1997 model Additional Protocol for more intrusive safeguards, as it would “strengthen the nuclear safeguards regime and facilitate the exchange of nuclear and nuclear-related material in peaceful nuclear cooperation.” Belarus, Cyprus, and Turkey were admitted as members, and Slovenia attended as an observer. In an effort to open the Group to new members, continued contacts with non-member States were mandated, particularly with Slovenia and Kazakhstan. It was also decided to establish a web site to ensure transparency and easier access to public information.
Slovenia was admitted as a new member and subscribing government at the meeting held in Vienna in October 2000, thus expanding NSG membership to 39. Nuclear supplier States made substantial progress toward reaching agreement on eliminating the current separate dual-use regime. The United States delivered a report on India’s nuclear program and voiced concerns about nuclear cooperation between Russia and India. This issue was fully discussed in a special intersessional plenary meeting held in early November 2000 in Vienna.
The Plenary Meeting was held in Florence in May. The NSG agreed to improve electronic information sharing among its members and to address issues of intangible technology transfer. Two working groups were established, one to clarify the appropriate control of components and the other to study ways to improve the effectiveness of the Dual-Use Regime. The Chair was mandated to contact Turkey, Belarus, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, and Slovenia with a view to taking inter-sessional decisions on their membership.
The NSG Plenary Meeting was held in Edinburgh in April. Latvia was admitted to the NSG. Members again agreed to continue their efforts to promote greater transparency and openness in the activities of the NSG to non-members. The Group decided to follow the success of the 1997 International Seminar on the Role of Export Controls in Nuclear Nonproliferation with an additional seminar in New York in the spring of 1999 before the NPT Preparatory Committee.
The NSG Plenary Meeting was held in Ottawa in May. The Group reiterated its commitment to greater transparency and openness in its activities and agreed to host an International Seminar on the Role of Export Controls in Nuclear Nonproliferation to be held on 6-7 October 1997 in Vienna. Additional measures to facilitate the sharing of information among Member States were adopted. Matters relating to membership issues and expressions of interest by some non-member States in joining the NSG were discussed.
The Buenos Aires NSG Plenary Meeting held in April noted the positive developments that had taken place: the decision on the indefinite extension of the NPT and on strengthening the review process for the NPT; the signature by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States to the Protocols of the Treaty of Rarotonga; and also the signature of the Pelindaba Treaty. The plenary considered these actions to have made a significant contribution to international peace and security, together with the Treaty of Tlatelolco. Responding to Decision 2 “Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament,” adopted at the NPT Review and Extension Conference (NPTREC) on 11 May 1995, the NSG agreed to promote openness and transparency through further dialogue and cooperation with non-member countries by establishing a working group to advance this objective. The NSG welcomed the endorsement by the NPTREC of the requirement for IAEA full-scope safeguards as a precondition for new supply arrangements.
The plenary held in Helsinki in April reviewed the Guidelines for Nuclear Transfers on the basis of recommendations by its working groups. It also considered options to update its Guidelines and Annexes. The NSG decided to continue its efforts to ensure that exports of nuclear or nuclear-related dual-use items for peaceful purposes were not diverted to nuclear explosive or unsafeguarded nuclear activities. The NSG affirmed the principle of openness and agreed that members should continue to brief other countries on the aims and activities of the NSG in order to increase transparency and to enlarge membership.