WHAT IS THE NSG?
The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a group of nuclear supplier countries (“NSG Participating Governments”) that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of guidelines for their nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
WHAT IS AN NSG PARTICIPANT?
This term is interchangeable with “NSG Participating Government” (PG), i.e. a government that participates in the NSG. Since the NSG is not a treaty-based organisation, the use of “member” or “Member State” is not used in the NSG.
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WHO PARTICIPATES IN THE NSG?
There are currently 48 Participating Governments (PGs) of the NSG. The year of participation is in brackets.
|Argentina (1994)||Cyprus (2000)||Ireland (1984)||New Zealand (1994)||South Africa (1995)|
|Australia (1978)||Czech Republic (1978*)||Italy (1978)||Norway (1989)||Spain (1988)|
|Austria (1991)||Denmark (1984)||Japan (1974)||Poland (1978)||Sweden (1978)|
|Belarus (2000)||Estonia (2004)||Kazakhstan (2002)||Portugal (1986)||Switzerland (1978)|
|Belgium (1978)||Finland (1980)||Latvia (1997)||Romania (1990)||Turkey (2000)|
|Brazil (1996)||France (1974)||Lithuania (2004)||Rep. of Korea (1995)||Ukraine (1996)|
|Bulgaria (1984)||Germany (1974)||Luxembourg (1984)||Russia (1974)||U.K. (1974)|
|Canada (1974)||Greece (1984)||Malta (2004)||Serbia (2013)||U.S. (1974)|
|China (2004)||Hungary (1985)||Mexico (2012)||Slovakia (1978*)|
|Croatia (2005)||Iceland (2009)||Netherlands (1978)||Slovenia (2000)|
(* Czechoslovakia separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia – participation date 5 Mar 1993)
The European Commission and the Chair of the Zangger Committee participate as observers.
WHY WAS THE NSG CREATED? WHAT ARE ITS ORIGINS?
- Shortly after entry into force of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1970, multilateral consultations on nuclear export controls to reach common understandings on how to implement Article III.2 of the NPT led to the establishment of two separate mechanisms for dealing with nuclear exports: the Zangger Committee in 1971 and what has become known as the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 1975.
- The Zangger Committee established the original Trigger List and three conditions of supply: (1) a non-explosive use assurance, (2) an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards requirement, and (3) a re-transfer provision that requires the receiving state to apply the same conditions when re-exporting these items.
- The NSG, known originally as the “London Club,” convened a series of meetings to facilitate a consistent interpretation of the obligations arising from that Article among major suppliers in and outside of the NPT, following the explosion in 1974 of a nuclear device by a non-nuclear-weapon State, an event which demonstrated that nuclear technology transferred for peaceful purposes could be misused.
- The NSG elaborated on the three original conditions of supply with the Part 1 Guidelines and adopted the original Zangger Committee’s Trigger List as an annex to the Guidelines.
- As a part of NSG outreach, the group maintains a public document entitled “The Nuclear Suppliers Group: Its Origins, Role, and Activities”, which it updates periodically for publication by the IAEA as INFCIRC 539.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PART 1 AND PART 2 GUIDELINES?
The NSG Part 1 Guidelines govern the export of items that are especially designed or prepared for nuclear use. These include: (i) nuclear material; (ii) nuclear reactors and equipment therefor; (iii) non-nuclear material for reactors; (iv) plants and equipment for the reprocessing, enrichment and conversion of nuclear material and for fuel fabrication and heavy water production; and (v) technology (including software) associated with each of the above items. These items are known as Trigger List Items as the transfer of an item triggers safeguards.
The NSG Part 2 Guidelines govern the export of nuclear-related dual-use items and technologies, that is, items that can make a major contribution to an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activity; but that have non-nuclear uses as well, for example in industry. These items are known as Dual-Use Items.
WHAT IS A “CONTROL LIST”?
A “control list” or an “export control list” is a list of sensitive items that are subject to export controls by national authorities. If listed items are misused, they could contribute to a nuclear weapons programme. The NSG Guidelines are supplemented by two control lists also called “Technical Annexes”: The Trigger List (annexed to the Part 1 Guidelines) and the Dual-Use List (annexed to the Part 2 Guidelines).
WHAT IS THE TRIGGER LIST?
The Trigger List is a control list and technical annex to the NSG Part 1 Guidelines, listing the specific types of material and equipment to which the conditions of supply described in the NSG Part 1 Guidelines apply. ‘Trigger List’ items “trigger” a requirement for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards in the country of destination. The Trigger List covers fuel cycle items, technology and software.
WHAT IS THE DUAL-USE LIST?
The Dual-Use List covers both nuclear fuel cycle activities and weaponization. Items listed on the list have both nuclear and non-nuclear applications and could make a significant contribution to an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activity. The Dual-Use List is a definitive list in which entries for the controls are described with a degree of technical detail and narrowly worded to cover only those items that are “significant” and “controllable.”
IS THE NSG A GROUP THAT DENIES OR APPROVES EXPORTS?
No. The NSG Guidelines are implemented by each NSG participant in accordance with its national laws and practices. Decisions on export applications are taken at the national level in accordance with national export licensing requirements. This is the prerogative and right of all States that are party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) for all export decisions in any field of commercial activity and is also in line with the text of Article III.2 of the NPT, which refers to “each State Party,” and thus emphasises the sovereign obligation of any party to the Treaty to exercise proper export controls.
The NSG does not have a mechanism for limiting supply and does not take collective decisions on licence applications as a group. NSG participants meet regularly to exchange information on issues of nuclear proliferation concern and how they may impact national export control policy and practice.
WHAT IS THE LINK BETWEEN THE NSG AND THE UNITED NATIONS (UN)?
There is no formal link, but the NSG’s activities contribute to the efforts of the United Nations in the field of non-proliferation and export controls. For example, the implementation of the NSG Guidelines and Annexes at the national level contribute to the fulfilment of national obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540.
WHAT IS THE LINK BETWEEN THE NSG AND THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY (IAEA)?
There is no formal link but there is close interdependence between the controls in Part 1 of the Guidelines and the effective implementation of comprehensive IAEA safeguards. The NSG supports fully international efforts to strengthen safeguards to detect undeclared activities as well as to monitor declared nuclear activities to ensure that they continue to meet vital nuclear non-proliferation requirements and to provide the assurances needed for the continuation of international nuclear trade. A full-scope safeguards agreement with the IAEA is an NSG condition for the future supply of Trigger List items to any non-nuclear-weapon State.
HOW OFTEN DOES THE NSG MEET?
The plenary meeting, the Information Exchange Meeting (IEM) and Licensing and Enforcement Experts Meeting (LEEM) are convened once a year. The Technical Experts Group (TEG) meets twice a year, the Consultative Group (CG) meets three times a year. There can also be exceptional meetings, both formal or informal.
The NSG Chair rotates on an ad hoc basis, usually annually, and has overall responsibility for coordination of work and outreach activities. Any participant is free to indicate its interest to chair the NSG and a decision is then reached by consensus. The ‘Troika’, an informal arrangement, composed of the past, current and future NSG Chairs, contributes to outreach activities and to continuity.
No. The NSG is a voluntary, non-legally binding association of major supplier governments. It was not created by a treaty. The NSG Guidelines set forth conditions of supply to establish a baseline of responsible and safe supply behaviour among suppliers in nuclear and nuclear-related transfers. NSG participants commit to implement the guidelines on a national basis. Taking a supply side approach, the NSG supports international nuclear non-proliferation efforts and in particular Article III.2 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
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