Proliferation News
» July 28, 2011

New Global Rules for Sensitive Nuclear Trade

Mark Hibbs | Carnegie Nuclear Energy Brief


The 46 members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) agreed last month on new global terms of trade for uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing technology (ENR). The new guidelines, published this week by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), represent a patchwork compromise between states most eager to prevent sensitive know-how from proliferating, and others which also fear discrimination by the handful of advanced countries that do nearly all the world's commercial nuclear fuel processing today.

The new guidelines impose additional and specific criteria for access to this technology at a time when more countries are planning to deploy nuclear power reactors and supporting infrastructure, and developing countries are objecting that advanced nuclear states are not assisting, and in some cases are impeding, their efforts. For over thirty years, the NSG has urged holders of sensitive nuclear fuel technology to "exercise restraint" in decisions about exports. The guidelines for ENR are found in two paragraphs—6 and 7—of the NSG's trade rules which were first published by the IAEA in 1978.

But until now this most important nuclear trade rule maker has imposed few specific extra conditions on sensitive nuclear commerce. In 2003, however, it was confirmed that an international smuggling ring had proliferated uranium enrichment technology to Iran, Libya, North Korea, and perhaps elsewhere. At the urging of President George W. Bush, the NSG then began a project to tighten its ENR guidelines. Full Article   

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