Arms Control:

U.S. and International Efforts to Ban Chemical Weapons

NSIAD-91-317: Published: Sep 30, 1991. Publicly Released: Oct 10, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the status of U.S. and multilateral efforts to stop the proliferation of and eventually destroy all chemical weapons, focusing on: (1) the Administration's export control policies and procedures; (2) U.S. coordination with other countries on the control of chemicals and equipment used in making chemical weapons, including U.S. participation in the Australia Group; (3) the progress and obstacles in achieving a multilateral convention to ban the manufacture, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons; and (4) the implementation of bilateral agreements with the Soviet Union on chemical weapons data exchanges, visits, and weapons destruction.

GAO found: (1) in November 1990, the President directed the appropriate executive agencies to establish enhanced proliferation controls on precursor chemicals and in December, the National Security Council stated that the United States should take a leadership role in expanding controls on precursor chemicals; (2) in March 1991, the United States established export controls through worldwide licensing requirements on all 50 precursor chemicals identified by the Australia Group and instituted export controls on related manufacturing equipment and technology; (3) in May 1991, the Group agreed to control all 50 precursor chemicals on a worldwide basis by the end of the year and to initiate controls over production equipment and related technology; (4) the unresolved issue of on-site inspections continues to hinder an agreement on a global chemical weapons convention, but the United States is actively discussing the issue within the Conference on Disarmament to try and reach support of the U.S. position; and (5) in June 1990, the United States and the Soviet Union formally agreed to destroy most of their chemical weapons within 10 years, but interim implementation steps have been delayed, since they have not agreed on inspection procedures and the Soviets have not yet prepared for the disposition of deactivated chemical weapons facilities.

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