These are challenging times in many respects. The COVID-19 pandemic is making each of us as well as our societies acutely aware of our vulnerability when facing a global threat. While responses may vary and adapt to local circumstances, some key features of a comprehensive approach seem to emerge, such as resilience, pragmatism, capacity-building, transparency, international cooperation, solidarity, prevention. We shouldn't be surprised to see these or similar concepts being applied to other areas of global concern as well, from global warming or environmental degradation to threats to international peace and security.
The current situation may offer an unprecedented opportunity to reboot our collective thinking about who we are, what we want and how we aim to achieve it. We may not have asked for this kind of challenge in the run up to the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, but there it is.
In the complex patchwork of international security fora, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) plays a specific yet crucial role. The NSG is a group of forty-eight nuclear supplier countries seeking to contribute to the non- proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear related exports. Through their cooperation, NSG Participating Governments give concrete effect to their adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime. This cooperation is multi-faceted. It involves diplomatic and regulatory communities as well as licensing and enforcement administrations. Detailed information exchanges allow for a better understanding of proliferation challenges and facilitate closer cooperation in order to deter, hinder and prevent the transfer of controlled items and technology that could contribute to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Participating Governments are committed to ensure effective implementation of all UN Security Council Resolutions relevant to the work and purposes of the NSG. Security diplomacy must keep pace with nuclear industry and developments in the areas of transfer, transit and transhipment. Regular updating of the NSG Guidelines for nuclear and nuclear-related exports is required. Outreach to industry merits due consideration. The NSG keeps the IAEA regularly informed about its activities and greatly values transparency towards the NPT community. I will address the Review Conference of the NPT, which entered into force 50 years ago, when it will meet in 2021. Based on the guidance received from Participating Governments, I will approach other important players in the nuclear field to promote adherence to the NSG Guidelines and I will explore the possibilities for expanding mutually agreeable interaction. The NSG is an open and thriving regime, willing to respond constructively to requests from other Nations that show a concrete interest in increased cooperation.
For their decision making to remain fully effective and efficient, NSG Participating Governments work on the basis of consensus and confidentiality of their proceedings. I will follow the good practice of my predecessors, whom I would like to thank for their excellent stewardship.
It is an honour for Belgium to have been entrusted by NSG Participating Governments to chair the NSG for the period 2020-2021. It is my personal privilege and commitment to carry out this duty in the best interest of the Group and of the advancement of our global nuclear non-proliferation goals. Due to the current circumstances, the Brussels Plenary has been postponed till mid-2021. However, regular NSG activities continue uninterrupted, albeit in a somewhat adapted format. These are challenging times indeed, but as any vibrant community with strong roots and a clear purpose, the NSG will stay on course and play its role in nuclear non-proliferation.
Thank you for your interest in reading and learning about the NSG. I would like to welcome ever more visitors to our website and look forward to a lively dialogue.
Werner Bauwens, Special Envoy Kingdom of Belgium,
Chair of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (2020-2021)