U.S. Seeks Comments on CWC Schedule 1 Chemical Limitations

Date: Dec 09, 2011

The U.S. Commerce Department has requested comments on three aspects of the limitations the Chemical Weapons Convention Regulations ("CWCR") place on trade involving CWC Schedule 1 chemicals. The requested comments generally pertain to the burden those limitations impose and possible new limitations. Schedule 1 chemicals include certain organophosphorus compounds, such as phosphonofluoridates, phosphoramidocyanidates and phosphonothiolates. Schedule 1 also includes sulfur mustards, lewisites, nitrogen mustards, saxitoxin and ricin, among others. 

The Commerce requests for comments are as follows:

1. The president must certify to the U.S. Senate each year that "legitimate commercial activities and interests of chemical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical firms in the United States are not being significantly harmed by the [CWCR's] limitations" on Schedule 1 chemicals. Those restrictions include a ban on Schedule 1 chemical exports to and imports from non-CWC member countries, government facility approvals, annual facility declarations, facility inspections and advance notification and annual reporting for all exports and imports.  In order to make the certification, the government needs to hear from relevant companies as to whether their interests in this area are being "significantly harmed."

2. CWC member states are considering subjecting salts of Schedule 1 chemicals to the same restrictions applicable to the chemicals themselves. Commerce is requesting comments on whether these salts are produced (as end-products or in a captive use), consumed, transferred or stored in the United States and whether companies would experience significant harm should these salts be restricted in the same ways as Schedule 1 chemicals.

3. Commerce is also seeking comments on whether there are any captive uses of Schedule 1 chemicals. Commerce says it has learned of a pharmaceutical company in Denmark that produced a nitrogen mustard as an intermediate in the production of another chemical. Apparently that company was ordered to halt production of the relevant pharmaceutical product. Commerce would like to know whether any similar Schedule 1 chemical captive uses may exist in the United States.

Companies that use or produce CWC Schedule 1 chemicals might use this request for comments to try to reshape the limitations on trade involving Schedule 1 chemicals and to opine on possibly new burdensome limitations on salts of Schedule 1 chemicals. 

Comments are due by January 9, 2012.