Australia's CWC obligations are implemented through the:
These documents can be accessed through ComLaw which is the legal information retrieval system managed by the Australian Attorney-General's Department.
Production, Consumption, Processing, Research and Development
The Chemicals Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994 bans activities connected to the development, production and use of chemical weapons, including assisting anyone else engaged in these activities, whether intentionally or not. Such offences are punishable by life imprisonment.
Under Article VI of the CWC, member countries have the right to produce or use certain toxic chemicals and their precursors for activities not prohibited by the treaty. However, in order to deter diversion of such chemicals to clandestine weapons programmes, the CWC provides for a stringent verification regime of such activities which involves making declarations to and hosting inspections conducted by the OPCW. Under the Chemicals Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994, a system of permits and notifications has been established to collect information required to ensure Australia meets its CWC obligations.
The permits issued under this Act simply provide a mechanism for ensuring that the particular requirements of the CWC as they relate to a facility or site are met. They are also a means for gathering information that is relevant to Australia's declaration to the OPCW. There are no charges for the issue of permits under this Act.
There are several types of permits issued under this Act, depending on the Schedule involved, the purpose for which it is to be used and the quantity of the chemical/s. A facility requires a permit if:
- it produces, acquires, retains, uses, consumes or transfers any amount of Schedule 1 chemical;
- it produces, processes or consumes a Schedule 2 chemical above the Schedule 2 permit threshold; or
- a plant within the facility produces more than 30 tonnes of a Schedule 3 chemical.
Applications for permits must be made to the Director General ASNO who has been designated by the Minister to approve permits. Applications must be made at least 21 days prior to activities commencing at the facility. Permits may be granted for one year but may be renewed, subject to permit conditions being met.
Australia is also required to declare to the OPCW all chemical facilities producing above threshold quantities of discrete organic chemicals (DOCs). In fact it is this aspect of the CWC which probably has the most widespread impact for Australian industry. Rather than requiring a permit, other organic chemical production facilities (OCPFs) are subject to simpler annual notification procedures.
Summary of activities requiring permits and notifications for all CWC-relevant activities, including trade, are presented in Table 4.
Application forms and information guides can be downloaded from this table.