RAPAPORT… U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland addressed the government’s position on rough diamond exports from Zimbabwe during a daily press briefing and confirmed that those in the U.S. must follow the ”American-targeted sanctions against individuals and entities in Zimbabwe” who are undermining democracy there. These sanctions prohibit U.S. citizens and firms from engaging in any transactions with those people on the list, and some currently include the parastatal entity that oversees the diamond exports from Marange, she said. The Kimberley Process granted permission yesterday for Zimbabwe to sell and export rough diamonds immediately.
The list was updated November 1 and is also known as “specially designated nationals and blocked persons” (SDN List), which includes Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, and his numerous family members, along with the country’s Mines Minister, Obert Mpofu, and diamond entities such as the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), among others.
Nuland explained that the U.S. abstained from voting on the “nonbinding decision,” to allow Zimbabwe to sell and export rough diamonds, during the Kimberley Process plenary session yesterday. ”However, we also did not block the Kimberley Process moving forward,” she added. Nuland explained that the E.U., since June, has led an intensive round of diplomacy with Kimberley Process stakeholders, including Zimbabwe, to reach a compromise.
”And whereas we think this compromise might have been stronger — and that’s why we abstained — the compromise that was agreed yesterday does include provisions for continued oversight and continued reporting by civil society. So we judge that, rather than having the entire Kimberley Process deadlocked over Zimbabwe, we would abstain, we would let this go forward,” she said.
When asked if the U.S. believes Mugabe’s government would live up to the transparency requirements set by the Kimberley Process, Nuland said this was the expectation and the standards agreed to. ”With this compromise, as I said, we do have some eyes on this process. We have reporting requirements. We have civil society there, which was a better situation than we’ve had in the past. So we need to test it now, and we need to see if the Mugabe government does, indeed, meet the commitments that he signed up to,” she concluded.