The United States did not vote at the recent Kimberley Process Plenary in Kinshasa allowing the ban on exports of Marange diamonds to be lifted but it still does not allow the trade of those diamonds in its territory because of sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation which is a partner with Mbada and owns Marange Resources.
Voting in the KP is by consensus.
Right now India and China can buy all the diamonds from Marange as India is currently one of the biggest centres for cutting rough diamonds.
Below is a full question and answer session by State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland relating to the Zimbabwe diamonds.
QUESTION: On a different country, Zimbabwe, we have a report that Zimbabwe has been allowed to export diamonds from its Marange – if that’s how it’s pronounced – fields. Our report says that the Kimberley Process’s last meeting in June gave the green light to Zimbabwe to sell the diamonds, but that this decision did not have the support of several Western countries. Has the United States changed its former – its position, which formerly was to oppose such sales? And if so, why did you change that position?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think, Arshad, you’re referring to the decision yesterday by the Kimberley Process plenary meeting, which was held in Kinshasa, on a way forward to allow exports from the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe. The U.S. abstained in this nonbinding decision. However, we also did not block the Kimberley Process moving forward. And I think you know that since June, the EU has led an intensive round of diplomacy working with the Government of Zimbabwe to try to come up with a compromise here. 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. But let me also say that we also maintain our own American-targeted sanctions against individuals and entities in Zimbabwe that are undermining democracy there, and these sanctions prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with those people on the list. And some on the list currently include the parastatal entity that oversees the diamond exports from Marange.
QUESTION: Do you actually believe that the Mugabe government is going to live up to the transparency requirements?
MS. NULAND: Well, that is obviously the expectation and the standard that the Kimberley Process will endeavor to hold the government to. But as I said, we thought it could have been stronger, which was why we abstained. But we didn’t want the continued paralysis of the whole process.
QUESTION: And why not allow the process to continue to be paralyzed if you’re not certain that – or you don’t – I mean, or you don’t have a high degree of confidence that the Mugabe government will indeed permit the transparency? I mean, why not just put the kibosh on it if you don’t think that they’re actually going to follow through?
MS. NULAND: Well, because previously we had no ability to affect Zimbabwe behavior. 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 it signed up to.