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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 10, November 1996

ACDA Fact Sheets:
Australia Group; Fissile materials cut-off; MTCR

The Australia Group

October meeting

The October meeting of the Australia Group, ACDA Fact Sheet, 17 October 1996


"Australia Group participants held informal consultations in Paris between 14-17 October, to discuss the continuing problem of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) proliferation. Participants at these talks were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States, with the Republic of Korea taking part for the first time.

Participants maintain a strong belief that full adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) will be the best way to eliminate these types of particularly inhumane weapons from the world's arsenals. In this context, the maintenance of effective export controls will remain an essential practical means of fulfilling obligations under the CWC and the BTWC.

All participants at the meeting welcomed the expected entry into force of the CWC...noting that this long-awaited step will be an important, historic moment in international efforts to prohibit chemical weapons. Participants agreed to issue a separate statement on this matter. (See following statement.)

Participants also welcomed the progress of efforts to strengthen the BTWC in the negotiations taking place in the Ad Hoc Group of BTWC States Parties in Geneva. All Australia Group participating countries are also States Parties to this Treaty, and strongly support efforts to develop internationally-agreed procedures for strengthening international confidence in the treaty regime by verifying compliance with BTWC obligations.

Experts from participating countries discussed national export licensing systems aimed at preventing inadvertent assistance to the production of CBW. They confirmed that participants administered export controls in a streamlined and effective manner which allows trade and the exchange of technology for peaceful purposes to flourish. They agreed to continue working to focus these national measures efficiently and solely on preventing any contribution to chemical and biological weapons programs. Participants noted that the value of these measures in inhibiting CBW proliferation benefited not only the countries participating in the Australia Group, but the whole international community.

Participants also agreed to continue a wide range of contacts, including a further program of briefings for countries not participating in the Paris consultations to further awareness and understanding of national policies in this area. Participants endorsed in this context the importance of regional seminars as valuable means of widening contacts with other countries on these issues. In particular, Romania's plans to host a seminar on CBW export controls for Central and Eastern European countries and the Commonwealth of Independent States in Bucharest on 21-22 October and Japan's plans to host a fourth Asian Export Control Seminar in Tokyo in early 1997 were warmly welcomed by participants. ...

The meeting also discussed relevant aspects of terrorist interest in CBW and agreed that this serious issue requires continuing attention. Participants agreed to hold further consultations in October 1997. ...

[Statement on CWC]

The countries participating in the Australia Group warmly welcomed the expected entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) during a meeting of the Group in Paris in October 1996. They noted that the long awaited commencement of the CWC regime, including the establishment of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, will be an historic watershed in global efforts to abolish chemical weapons for all time. They also noted that all States adhering to the CWC are obliged to ensure their national activities support the goal of a world free of chemical weapons.

All of the participating countries reiterated their previous statements underlining their intention to be among the original States Parties to the CWC. They noted that 24 of the 30 countries participating in the Australia Group have already ratified the Convention. Representatives also recalled their previous expressions of support for the CWC, and reaffirmed these commitments. They restated their view that the effective operation and implementation of the CWC offers the best means available to the international community to rid the world of these weapons for all time. They called on all signatories to ratify the CWC as soon as possible, and on the small number of countries which have not signed the Treaty to join the regime and thereby contribute to international efforts to ban these weapons.

Representatives at the Australia Group meeting recalled that all of the participating countries are taking steps at the national level to ensure that relevant national regulations promote the object and purpose of the CWC and are fully consistent with the Convention's provisions when the CWC enters into force for each of these countries. They noted that the practical experience each country had obtained in operating export licensing systems intended to prevent assistance to chemical weapons programs have been especially valuable in each country's preparations for implementation of key obligations under the CWC. They noted in this context, that these national systems are aimed solely at avoiding assistance for activities which are prohibited under the Convention, while ensuring they do not restrict or impede trade and other exchanges facilitated by the CWC."


Chronology on Australia Group events 1985-1996, ACDA Fact Sheet, 29 October 1996


"Chaired by Australia, the 'Australia Group' is an informal forum of States whose goal is to discourage and impede chemical weapons (CW) proliferation by harmonizing national export controls on CW precursor chemicals, sharing information on target countries, and seeking other ways to curb the use of CW. The Group was formed in 1984 as a result of CW use in the Iran-Iraq War. Members meet annually in Paris, where the 1925 Geneva Protocol is deposited. The group's actions are viewed as complementary measures in support of the 1925 Geneva Protocol, the 1972 Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. There are presently 30 members of the Group, including: EC-12 [12 European Union States], Australia, Argentina, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, South Korea and the United States. Requests by other States to join the Group are considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Group has no charter or constitution. It operates by consensus. On 10 December, 1992, the AG issued its first joint background paper on the Group's activities.

The Group has established common export controls for chemical and biological weapons nonproliferation purposes. For CW, members of the AG control a list of 54 chemical precursors and a list of CW-related production equipment as well. For BW, members have established export controls on certain microorganisms, toxins and equipment that could be used in a BW program. In tandem with export controls, the AG has periodically used warning mechanisms to sensitize its public to CBW proliferation. The Group has issued an informal 'warning list' of dual-use CW precursors and bulk chemicals, and on CW-related equipment. Members develop and share the warning lists with their chemical industries and ask industry to report on any suspicious transactions. The AG has also used an approach to warn industry, the scientific community, and other relevant groups of the risk of inadvertently aiding BW proliferation.

The Group's meetings focus on sharing information about national export controls, considering proposals for 'harmonization' - the adoption of common controls by all members on chemical precursors, equipment, biological weapons- related materials and considering other measures to address CBW proliferation and use. ..."

Fissile Material Production Cut-Off

Fissile Material Production Cutoff Negotiations, ACDA Fact Sheet, 29 October 1996


"President Clinton reiterated the importance of negotiating a treaty to freeze the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons in his September 24, 1996 address to the 51st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). He called upon the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament

(CD) to take up this challenge immediately. He further noted that the United States, Russia, France and the United Kingdom already have halted production of fissile material for weapons and urged other nations to end the unsafeguarded production of these materials pending completion of the treaty.

President Clinton first called for cutoff negotiations in his 1993 address to the UN, proposing a multilateral agreement to halt production of high-enriched uranium and separated plutonium used in nuclear explosives or outside international safeguards. In December 1993, the UN General Assembly passed a consensus resolution (48/75L) on cutoff, which expressed the conviction that a 'nondiscriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices would be a significant contribution to nuclear non-proliferation in all its aspects.' The resolution called for the negotiation of such a treaty in the most appropriate international forum and requested the International Atomic Energy Agency to provide assistance in examining verification arrangements.

In March 1995, the CD agreed by consensus to establish an Ad Hoc Committee with a mandate to negotiate a cutoff treaty based on the 1993 UNGA resolution. In May 1995, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference agreed on an action plan in the 'Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament' which included the immediate commencement and early conclusion of cutoff negotiations in accordance with the 1995 CD mandate. However, the demand of a few States in the CD to link cutoff negotiations to other nuclear disarmament issues has brought progress there to a standstill.

A cutoff treaty would cap the amount of fissile material available worldwide for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Such a treaty would strengthen international nuclear nonproliferation norms and add a binding international commitment to existing constraints on weapons-usable material. The United States envisions that States would undertake:

- not to produce fissile materials for use in nuclear explosive devices;

- not to assist other States in activities proscribed by the treaty; and

- to accept International Atomic Energy Agency inspections to verify compliance with the treaty.

The United States hopes to begin negotiations on cutoff following the resumption of the CD in January 1997. A cutoff treaty, as a complement to the CTBT's qualitative limits on stockpiles, will place legally binding quantitative limits on nuclear weapon stockpile growth. The United States stopped producing fissile material for nuclear weapons in 1992. In 1994, the United States and Russia signed a bilateral agreement to halt plutonium production for nuclear weapons. In 1995, Russia and the United Kingdom announced that they had stopped production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons; France announced that it ceased production in February 1996. ..."

Missile Technology Control Regime

The Missile Technology Control Regime, ACDA Fact Sheet, 6 November 1996

Full text

"The cornerstone of US missile nonproliferation policy is the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The MTCR was formed in 1987 by the United States with our G-7 economic partners (Canada, the former West Germany, Italy, Japan, France, and the United Kingdom). Today, membership totals 28 nations (see footnote). In addition to a growing membership, the number of countries unilaterally observing - or 'adhering to'- the Guidelines is increasing.

The aim of the MTCR is to restrict the proliferation of missiles, unmanned air vehicles, and related technology for those systems capable of carrying a 500 kilogram payload at least 300 kilometers, as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The MTCR considers 'missiles' to include: ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles (SLVs) and sounding rockets. Unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) include: cruise missiles, drones, UAVs, and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs).

The MTCR was originally concerned only with nuclear capable delivery systems. In January 1993, the Partners extended the guidelines to cover delivery systems capable of delivering all WMD (nuclear, chemical, and biological).

The MTCR is neither a treaty nor an international agreement but is a voluntary arrangement among countries which share a common interest in arresting missile proliferation. The Regime consists of common export policy applied to a common list of controlled items. Each member implements its commitments in the context of its own national export laws.

The annex of controlled equipment and technology is divided into 'Category I' and 'Category II' items. It includes equipment and technology, both military and dual-use, that are relevant to missile development, production, and operation.

According to the Guidelines, export of Category I items is subject to a presumption of denial. Category I includes complete rocket systems (including ballistic missile systems, space launch vehicles, and sounding rockets); unmanned air-vehicle systems such as cruise missiles, target and reconnaissance drones; specially-designed production facilities for these systems; and certain complete subsystems such as rocket engines or stages, re-entry vehicles, guidance sets, thrust-vector controls and warhead safing, arming, fuzing, and firing mechanisms. The transfer of Category I production equipment will not be authorized.

Category II covers a wide range of parts, components and subsystems such as propellants, structural materials, test equipment and facilities, and flight instruments. These items may be exported at the discretion of the MTCR Partner government, on a case-by-case basis, for acceptable end-uses. They may also be exported under government-to-government assurances, which provide that they not be used on a missile system capable of delivering a 500 kilogram payload to a range of at least 300 kilometers.

The MTCR Guidelines specifically state that the Regime is 'not designed to impede national space programs or international cooperation in such programs as long as such programs could not contribute to delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction.' We are careful with SLV equipment and technology transfers, however, since the technology used in an SLV is virtually identical to that used in a ballistic missile, which poses genuine potential for missile proliferation.

At their 11th Plenary Meeting, October 1996, in Edinburgh, Scotland, MTCR Partners built upon intersessional meetings on the regional aspects of missile proliferation and transshipment issues and agreed to further intersessional meetings on these topics.

Partners agreed to continue to exchange views on missile-related aspects of regional tensions and the role of the regime in contributing towards reducing associated risks to security in the areas involved.

Partners also recognized the importance of controlling the transshipment of missile technology without disrupting legitimate trade and acknowledged the need to strengthen the Regime through cooperation with countries outside the Regime.

Partners noted with satisfaction a continuing readiness by non-member countries to observe the MTCR guidelines. Partners call on all other States producing or trading in missile-relevant equipment and technology to do likewise.

[Note:] The following countries are members of tne MTCR: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal,iThe Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America."

Biological Weapons Convention Review Process

The Biological Weapons Convention, ACDA Fact Sheet, 12 November 1996

Full text

"The Biological Weapons Convention requires Parties not to develop, produce, stockpile, or acquire biological agents or toxins 'of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective, and other peaceful purposes,' as well as weapons and means of delivery. The United States unilaterally renounced biological and toxin weapons in 1969.

The Biological Weapons Convention was opened for signature in April 1972 and the United States submitted its instruments of ratification in March 1975. The United States, along with the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation, are the three depositary governments for the Convention. There are currently some 139 States Parties with an additional 18 countries who have signed but not ratified the Convention.

There have been three Review Conferences to the BWC, each taking place in Geneva. The First Review Conference was held in 1980. At the Second Review Conference, in 1986, States Parties agreed on a set of confidence-building measures (CBMs), which included: exchanging data on research laboratories that meet very high national or international safety standards; sharing information on all outbreaks of infectious diseases or similar occurrences caused by toxins which deviate from the normal; encouraging publication of results of biological defense research in scientific journals generally available to the public; and promoting scientific contact, including joint research projects directly related to the Convention.

At the Third Review Conference in 1991, States Parties were determined to strengthen the CBMs and to enhance confidence in the implementation of the Convention. In addition to strengthening the existing CBMs, States Parties added two additional CBMs: declaration of past activities in offensive and/or defensive biological research and development programs; and declaration of vaccine production facilities.

In a further effort to strengthen the effectiveness and improve implementation of the Convention, States Parties mandated the convening of an Ad Hoc Group of Governmental Experts to identify and examine potential verification measures from a scientific and technical standpoint. Also known as VEREX, the Ad Hoc Group held four sessions in Geneva between March 1992 and September 1993, completing its work and submitting a consensus report circulated to all States Parties. As provided in the mandate, a majority of States Parties called for a Special Conference in 1994 to consider the Final Report and determine further actions.

The VEREX Report has four principal sections. Three of the four sections consist of annexes to the Report detailing the specific findings respectively of the first three sessions of the Group. Annex No. 1 summarizes the first meeting, held 30 March - 10 April, 1992. At this initial session, 21 potential verification measures encompassing both on and off-site activities were identified under the three broad areas of development, acquisition or production, and stockpiling. The off-site measures included the categories of information monitoring, data exchange, remote sensing, and inspections. Exchange visits, inspections, and continuous monitoring comprised the three categories of on-site activities. Annex No. 2 contains the summary of the examination of each of the 21 potential measures conducted at the second session, held 23 November - 4 December, 1992. As part of the examination, the measures were defined and their characteristics enumerated. In addition, the state-of-the-art applicable technologies were detailed, and the capabilities and limitations of those technologies described. Annex No. 3 contains the summary of the evaluation of the measures conducted during the third meeting, held 24 May - 4 June, 1993. The 21 measures were evaluated in accordance with the six main criteria mandated by the 1991 Review Conference. For each of the measures, the capabilities and limitations were identified and compiled. In addition, the VEREX assessed illustrative, but not exhaustive, examples of measures in combination.

The fourth component of the Report is a Summary containing an overview of the proceedings and findings of the VEREX which was prepared at the final session, held 13-24 September, 1993. The principal conclusions of the Summary are:

- The Ad Hoc Group of Governmental Experts (VEREX) concluded that potential verification measures as identified and evaluated could be useful to varying degrees in enhancing confidence, through increased transparency, that States Parties were fulfilling their obligations under the BWC.

- While it was agreed that reliance could not be placed on any single measure to differentiate conclusively between prohibited and permitted activity and to resolve ambiguities about compliance, it was also agreed that the measures could provide information of varying utility in strengthening the BWC.

- Some measures in combination could provide enhanced capabilities by increasing, for example, the focus and improving the quality of information, thereby improving the possibility of differentiating between prohibited and permitted activities and of resolving ambiguities about compliance.

- Concern was expressed that the implementation of any measure should ensure that sensitive commercial proprietary information and national security needs are protected.

- Based on the examination and evaluation of the measures against the criteria given in the mandate, the VEREX considered, from the scientific and technical standpoint, that some of the potential verification measures would contribute to strengthening the effectiveness and improving the implementation of the Convention, also recognizing that appropriate and effective verification could reinforce the Convention.

As provided in the mandate, a Special Conference to discuss the VEREX Final Report and to consider further actions was convened in September 1994. The Conference agreed to establish an Ad Hoc Group, open to all States Parties, to consider appropriate measures, including possible verification measures, and draft proposals to strengthen the Convention in a legally binding instrument. The Ad Hoc Group held three meetings in 1995, a procedural meeting and two substantive meetings, and two substantive meetings in 1996, each of two weeks duration. The work of the Ad Hoc Group is divided into four Friends of the Chair, consistent with the categories established by the Special Conference. They are Measures to Promote Compliance; Definitions and Objective Criteria; Article X (technology transfer); and Confidence-Building Measures. An Ad Hoc Group Progress Report will be submitted to the Fourth Review Conference scheduled to convene in Geneva, 25 November - 6 December, 1996."

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