The Zangger Committee was formed in 1971 to help Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) members and non-members comprehend NPT’s Article 3.2 on export controls. The committee came up with a controlled items list in 1974, called the Trigger List. The list is named so because the items on it insinuate standards of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In other words, misusing those items could lead to nuclear explosive programs. Plutonium and highly-enriched uranium (HEU) are part of this list.

NPT member states can export Trigger List items in the following scenarios: i) the items won’t be used to make nuclear explosives, ii) the item recipient is subjected to IAEA safeguards, and iii) the recipient state does not re-export the item to another country that doesn’t have proper safeguards in place.

Informal Group

The Zangger Committee comes together informally two times annually in Vienna, Austria – in May and October. Countries cannot apply to become a Committee member. New members get membership only through invitation. As of April 2016, Zangger Committee has 38 members. Professor Claude Zangger (Switzerland) was the first chairman of the Committee and remained chairman for almost two decades, eventually retiring in 1989. The committee is named after him, acknowledging his years of service.    

The Zangger Committee is a voluntary group and doesn’t bind to any treaty. It therefore cannot enforce compliance onto its members based on merit, and also takes decisions based on consensus. Also, the group’s chairman doesn’t have fixed tenure. One can stay chairman as long as he/she performs duties as per desired.