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 proliferation programs, 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: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Community Commission (Observer). 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 Dec. 10, 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.
AUSTRALIA GROUP MEMBERSHIP
The following 30 countries are currently members of the "Australia Group" which attempts to discourage and impede CW and BW proliferation by harmonizing export controls on CW precursors, BW pathogens and CBW dual-use production equipment, sharing information, and seeking other ways to curb the use of CW:
|AUSTRALIA GROUP MEETING||PRINCIPAL RESULT|
|June 1985||First AG Meeting. Core List of five chemicals.|
|September 1985||Development of a Warning List.|
|May 1986||Adoption of Warning List/35 chemicals.|
|September 14-15, 1987||Core List of eight chemicals.|
|April 19-21, 1988||Discussion of CW equipment Warning List.|
|December 14-15, 1988||Thionylchloride added to Core List. Four added to Warning List/44 chemicals.|
|May 9-11, 1989||Adoption of U.S. proposal for notifications of denials. Six added to Warning List/50 chemicals. Japan imposes controls on 50 chemicals. Austria requested July 1989 AG documentation system instituted. Proposed biannual meetings.|
|December 12-14, 1989||Austria attends as new member. CW Equipment Warning List adopted. U.S. proposal on Harmonization with emerging suppliers. BW on Agenda for Information and Policy Exchange.|
|June 19-21, 1990||#15 added to Core list, Intersessional consideration of #11, 12, and 29. Core List of 10 chemicals. Adoption of BW guidelines. Soviet and Eastern European Seminar proposed. U.S. proposal to share information on chemical license approvals.|
|December 11-13, 1990||#11, 12, 29 added to Core List. Core List of 13 chemicals. Customs Enforcement Exchanges begin. Soviet and Eastern European Seminar held after the AG meeting in London.|
|May 21-23, 1991||Consensus to control 50 CW precursors. Draft CW Equipment List developed. Adoption of a Press Release for the first time. Establishment of Technical Working Groups. Sweden recommended for membership.|
|December 9-11, 1991||Sweden and Finland attend as members. Working groups on equipment, BW, Customs/licensing, and precursors. Export controls on CBW-related equipment, microorganisms, toxins, and one item of BW- related equipment. Warning mechanism on potential uses of various chemicals in CW programs. Warning mechanism on microorganisms and toxins that could be used in a BW program.|
|June 1-5, 1992||Expanded precursor controls to 54. Export controls on CBW-related BW list of human, plant, and animal pathogens to be placed under export control. Warning mechanism on microorganisms and toxins that could be used in a BW program.|
|December 7-10, 1992||Argentina and Hungary invited as new members. AG released a background and press release on its activities. Agreed on the continuing role of the AG in support of the CWC and BWC. Agreed on measures to control the export of biological agents and equipment which could be used in a BW program.|
|June 2-10, 1993||Argentina, Hungry and Iceland attend as new members. Finalized package of comprehensive export controls on biological agents and associated dual-use equipment. Established "no undercut" policy. Established outreach program in an effort to provide transparency to group activities as well as promote export controls as nonproliferation tool.|
|December 6-9, 1993||Members reaffirm support for CWC. Adopted methods to streamline licensing procedures to facilitate legitimate trade. Expressed support for Asian Export Control Seminar to be hosted by Japan and Latin American Seminar to be hosted by Argentina.|
|May 16-19, 1994||Expressed continued support for adherence to CWC and BWC and the need for export controls to support those regimes. Agreed on common approach for harmonizing export controls on mixtures containing CW precursors. Sought ways to harmonize, streamline and maintain effectiveness of export controls within the Group.|
|November 29 - December 1, 1994||Czech Republic, Poland and the Slovak Republic attended the meeting as new members. Members dedicated themselves to becoming original states parties to CWC. Considered steps to contribute to international dialogue on the need for and role of national measures needed to prevent assistance to CBW programs.|
|October 16-19, 1995||Romania attended as new member. Members agreed to revisions in control lists in light of revelations concerning the Iraqi BW program. Members reaffirmed need for end-user checks to ensure legitimate trade. During Plenary sessions, members discussed heightened concerns of CBW terrorism.|
|October 14-17, 1996||The Republic of Korea attended as a new member. Members welcomed the impending entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and released a public statement pledging support for the Convention. Members outlined changes to export control legislation to conform to the guidelines of the CWC. Members continued to discuss ways the Group could combat CBW terrorism.|
|October 6-9, 1997||Members welcomed the entry into force of the CWC on 29 April 1997, and encouraged all countries to sign and ratify the convention. Members also restated strong support for strengthening the BWC. Members agreed that continued informal export control cooperation remains relevant and reinforces the aims of the CWC and BWC, and benefits the whole international community. Members also continued to discuss relevant aspects of terrorist interest in CBW.|