Foreign Policy Blogs

Merci Monsieur Goldschmidt

The next meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is slated to meet next month with its current chair, the Netherlands, at the helm.  At that meeting, the USG and Indian governments are hoping to get the other members to agree to making India a permanent member.  They currently have observer status.  I could not disagree more.  Its bad enough that the USG, during the previous Administration, heavily damaged its nonproliferation credentials by agreeing to civilian nuclear trade with India, one of three countries that refuse to join the NPT.  Moreover, the NSG agreed to this exemption.  And now, the US wants to make this particular non-NPT state – you know, the one which detonated Mr. Smiling Buddha in 1974 which, in turn, led to the formation of the NSG – a permanent member of – wait for it – the NSG!  Oh, the irony.

Luckily, I’m not alone in seeing the absurdity of such a move. Pierre Goldschmidt, a former Deputy Director General for Safeguards at the IAEA, has proposed a criteria-based approach to admit India…..or Pakistan or Israel for that matter, to the NSG.

In his piece for Carnegie, Goldschmidt opines that, in granting the exemption to U.S.-India nuclear trade, the NSG “should have required India to accept formally at least the obligations of the five nuclear-weapon states recognized under the NPT. The NSG also should have entitled India to less cooperation from the supplier states than that made available to NPT non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS). ”  Amen brother!  So now, with the USG hoping to get the existing NSG members to accept India as a permanent member, Goldschmidt says that India should meet a series of additional criteria.

At an absolute minimum, says Mr Goldschmidt, “any non-NPT state [India, Pakistan and Israel] should be expected to meet objective nonproliferation criteria that ensure their behavior is consistent with the basic objectives of the Group. Such criteria would require non-NPT states to adopt undertakings similar to those already accepted by the five nuclear-weapon states. They would also oblige the non-NPT states to implement major export conditions before joining the Group, as well as to adhere to and implement international treaties, conventions and legally-binding UN Security Council resolutions dealing with disarmament, nuclear security and nuclear terrorism.”  But wait, there’s more:

They should also:

  • Have in force a Voluntary Offer Agreement (VOA) with the IAEA whereby the non-NPT State undertakes to place all new nuclear facilities located outside existing military nuclear sites on the list of facilities eligible to be safeguarded by the IAEA under INFCIRC/66-type safeguards agreements (with duration and coverage provisions in conformity with IAEA document GOV/1621 of August 1973);
  • Have ratified an Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement (as already done by the five NPT nuclear-weapon states); and
  • Not be in material breach of an IAEA safeguards agreement.
  • For more on Goldschmidt’s list, check out his piece for Carnegie here:

    Goldschmidt NSG Piece 



    Jodi Lieberman

    Jodi Lieberman is a veteran of the arms control, nonproliferation, nuclear terrorism and nuclear safety trenches, having worked at the Departments of State, Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She has also served in an advisory capacity and as professional staff for several members of Congress in both the House and Senate as well as the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Jodi currently spends her time advocating for science issues and funding as the Senior Government Affairs Specialist at the American Physical Society. The views expressed in her posts are her views based on her professional experience but in way should be construed to represent those of her employer.

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