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Mexico Joins Australia Group

Saddam Hussein's chemical attack on Halabja killed thousands.
Saddam Hussein's chemical attack on Halabja killed thousands.

Informal group of countries seeks to limit the spread of chemical and biological weapons.

On August 12th, Mexico became the 42nd member of the Australia Group, an informal group of countries that seeks to limit the spread of chemical and biological weapons. By doing so, Mexico reaffirmed its commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation.

Mexico Joins Australia Group
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The Australia Group was founded in 1985, largely in response to the use of chemical weapons by the regime of Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. At least some of the precursor chemicals and materials that Iraq used for its chemical weapons program had been acquired through legitimate trade channels.

As a result, several countries introduced export controls on certain chemicals that could be used to manufacture chemical weapons. But because these controls lacked uniformity, they were prone to circumvention. This led Australia to propose that these countries harmonize their national licensing measures and enhance cooperation.

Today, members of the Australia Group work together in close cooperation to prevent the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons, including by ensuring that exports of certain dual-use items, such as 54 listed chemical weapons precursor compounds, and certain biological agents, animal and plant pathogens and dual-use manufacturing equipment, do not contribute to such proliferation.

Mexico began incorporating the Australia Group’s export control lists into its regulations in 2012 and published its final rule update -- an interagency agreement on export permits for the last 34 Australia Group-controlled chemicals -– in mid-April of 2013. Noting these efforts, the other Australia Group members quickly reached consensus to admit Mexico during the Group’s plenary meeting in early June.

The United States joins other members of the Australia Group in congratulating Mexico on becoming the Group’s newest member. This development highlights the Mexican Government’s commitment to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including by regulating the trade of sensitive goods and technologies.

Mexico is a valued nonproliferation partner. The United States looks forward to continuing our work with Mexico in the Australia Group in furtherance of our shared nonproliferation goals.