Strong commitment to peaceful uses of nuclear expertise
Published on 22 July 2021
Chairman Werner Bauwens addressing the NSG plenary,
in the background Minister Wilmès.
© Thomas Daems
With a plenary session in the Egmont Palace (Brussels) in June 2021, Belgium successfully concluded its Presidency of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Because even in challenging coronavirus times, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons deserves our undiminished attention.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a network of 48 countries with nuclear expertise. These countries have guidelines to prevent this expertise from being used for nuclear weapons. Materials, equipment and technology may only be exported for peaceful purposes. The NSG guidelines support the various international, binding treaties on "nuclear non-proliferation".
The NSG was founded in 1975. The triggering event was a nuclear explosion that India had carried out with nuclear goods imported from Canada and the US. Belgium joined in 1978. In 2020-2021, our country held the Presidency for the first time, in challenging coronavirus times no less.
Nevertheless, we can look back on the Presidency with satisfaction. The main goal of ensuring the continuity and vitality of the NSG has been achieved. Our country also managed to organise a closing plenary meeting (24-25 June) with the physical representation of 40 countries. Countries that could not attend due to COVID-19 restrictions were still involved through online sessions. The meeting was chaired by Special Envoy Werner Bauwens, with Sophie Wilmès, Foreign Minister, in attendance.
View of the Egmont Palace meeting room,
while Minister Wilmès addresses the audience.
© Thomas Daems
North Korea and Iran
In the final text, the attending governments endorsed the full and unconditional implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions urging North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons programme. An NSG country may not supply nuclear material to North Korea.
The NSG countries also supported ongoing diplomatic efforts to ensure that the US and Iran return to their obligations as set out in the nuclear deal under UN Security Council Resolution 2231. Accordingly, the International Atomic Energy Agency should regain access to Iran's nuclear programme.
The successful plenary session can be regarded as an inspiring, concrete contribution to the Review Conference of the "Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons", which will be held in 2022.
In any case, Belgium remains strongly committed to the NSG's objectives. Such a forum reinforces our country's conviction that international cooperation and a multilateral approach offer the best response to global challenges.
Belgium once again demonstrated the power of our diplomacy as a consensus builder. In the coming year, Poland will assume the Presidency of the NSG.
Read the closing statement.