The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was created following the explosion in 1974 of a nuclear device by a non-nuclear-weapon State, which demonstrated that nuclear technology transferred for peaceful purposes could be misused.
The NSG Guidelines were published in 1978 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as 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.
At the 1990 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, a number of recommendations were made by the committee reviewing the implementation of Article III, which had a significant impact on the NSG's activities in the 1990s.
In 1992, the NSG decided to establish Guidelines for transfers of nuclear-related dual-use equipment, material and technology (items which 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, and the original Guidelines published in 1978 became Part 1 of INFCIRC/254.
The endorsement at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference (NPTREC) of the full-scope Safeguards policy, already adopted by the NSG in 1992, clearly reflected the conviction of the international community that this nuclear supply policy is a vital element to promote shared nuclear non-proliferation commitments and obligations.
NSG Participating Governments (PGs) prepared a comprehensive information paper on the NSG for the 2000 NPT Review Conference. This was disseminated on the IAEA website as INFCIRC/539/Rev. 1 (Corr.) in November 2000, under the title “The NSG: Its Origins, Roles and Activities”.
The 2001 NSG Plenary (Aspen) agreed to create a standing intersessional body, the Consultative Group, tasked by the Plenary to hold consultations on issues associated with the NSG’s Guidelines on nuclear supply and the technical annexes. The Information Exchange Meeting was also established by the Aspen Plenary to provide an opportunity for NSG Participating Governments to share information and developments of relevance to the objectives and content of the NSG Guidelines.
The 2004 NSG Plenary (Göteborg) adopted a mechanism in the NSG Part 2 Guidelines that NSG participants should ensure that their national legislation requires an authorisation for the transfer of items not listed in the Dual-Use Annex if the items in question are or may be intended, in their entirety or in part, for use in connection with a “nuclear explosive activity”. NSG Participants implement such an authorisation requirement in accordance with their domestic licensing practices and are encouraged to share information on “catch-all” denials.
The 2005 NSG Plenary (Oslo) adopted a decision that supplier and recipient states should elaborate appropriate measures to invoke fall-back safeguards if the IAEA can no longer undertake its Safeguards mandate in a recipient state.
At an extraordinary NSG Plenary in Vienna, convened by the 2008 NSG Chair (Germany), PGs adopted a policy statement on civil nuclear cooperation with the IAEA-safeguarded Indian civil nuclear program - INFCIRC/734 (corrected).
To keep pace with advances in technology, market trends and security challenges, the 2010 NSG Plenary (Christchurch) agreed to establish a technical group to conduct a fundamental review of the NSG’s Trigger and Dual-Use Lists. The technical working group was called the Dedicated Meeting of Technical Experts (DMTE).
The 2012 NSG Plenary (Seattle) endorsed the recommendation of the NSG Consultative Group (CG) to approve 26 technical proposals from the DMTE. The Plenary also approved an amendment to the NSG Part 1 Guidelines, adding a new paragraph 12 entitled “Support for Access to Nuclear Fuel for Peaceful Uses”.
The Fundamental Review was completed at the 2013 NSG Plenary (Prague). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published all 54 agreed amendments in revised IAEA documents INFCIRC/254/Part 1 and INFCIRC/254/Part 2 on 13 November 2013. The 2013 NSG Plenary agreed to amend Paragraph 3.a and Annex C of the Part 1 Guidelines to reference recognized IAEA recommendations for physical protection and agreed to launch the new, revised NSG website to facilitate information sharing with the public in multiple languages.
In its role as NSG Chair, Argentina presented a national statement on behalf of the NSG to Main Committee II of the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in New York. A successful side-event organized by Argentina held on the margins of the NPT Review Conference in New York, provided more detailed information on the work and goals of the Group. Both the statement and presentation can be found in the documents section of this website.
The 2017 NSG Plenary (Bern) approved revised guidance for enhancing outreach to individual non-participating governments, transit and trans-shipment countries, multilateral and regional fora, other export control regimes, and industry.
At the 2019 NSG Plenary (Nur-Sultan), the multilingual NSG explanatory video "What is the NSG" was completed and uploaded to the NSG website following the approval of the video text at the 2018 NSG Plenary (Jūrmala).
The thirtieth Plenary Meeting of the NSG was held in Brussels, Belgium, in June 2021. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 2020 NSG Plenary meeting, initially planned for June 2020, had not taken place. PGs agreed to follow in future the new timing of the Plenary taking place at the end of a Chair's term in office, welcoming the smooth transition that allowed for continuity in the work of the NSG.