Chemical/Biological Weapons


The Department of Commerce maintains foreign policy export controls on certain chemical precursors useful in chemical warfare. Through the Australia Group (AG), the United States cooperates with other nations in controlling chemical weapons proliferation. The AG has developed a Core List of nine chemicals considered essential to the development of chemical weapons. The AG also developed a Warning List which identifies 41 precursors which are useful for chemical weapons development. The AG also provides the forum in which the member countries share information concerning the activities of nonmember countries where the proliferation of these weapons is of concern, including entities that are seeking chemical precursors and related items.

The United States controls all 50 chemical precursors designated by the AG as useful in chemical weapons production. The nine core list chemicals are controlled worldwide, except to the members of the AG and NATO. The remaining 41 chemicals are controlled to selected countries.

The U.S. also maintains unilateral controls on certain biological organisms and requires an individual validated license to all destinations except Canada. U.S. Department of Commerce regulations are designed in the form of a “negative” list. The list identifies those organisms that have been determined to be of no or minimal level of hazard. Any organism that is not included on the list is controlled. The U.S. Department of Commerce requires individual validated licenses for the export of Class 2, 3, and 4 organisms to all destinations except Canada. (The higher the class, the greater the toxicity.) License applications are referred to the U.S. State Department for review and recommendation. Approval or denial is determined by analysis of the application and intelligence input.

See Australia Group.

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