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Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (“CBW Act”)

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In a notification published in the Federal Register on August 26, 2019, the State Department provided additional information on restrictions on exports to Russia that were initially described by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on August 2, 2019 when he announced the second round of targeted sanctions on Russia under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (the “CBW Act”).  Our blog post on the August 2, 2019 announcement (“Announcement”), which described sanctions measures concerning multilateral bank assistance and lending to or participation in debt offerings by the Russian sovereign, in addition to restrictions on exports to Russia described in further detail below, is available here.

On August 2, 2019, the US State Department announced targeted sanctions against Russia related to the March 2018 use of a “novichok” nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in the United Kingdom.  This was the second round of sanctions required under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (the “CBW Act”) following the State Department’s determination on November 6, 2018 that Russia had failed to provide reliable assurances that it would not engage in future chemical weapons attacks. The US Government issued the first round of CBW Act sanctions on August 27, 2018. See our blog post on the first round of CBW Act sanctions here.

In the past week, the US Government took several significant steps related to the US sanctions against Russia.  These included imposing sanctions pursuant to Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (“CAATSA”) for the first time and expanding the list of persons and entities identified as being part of the Russian defense or intelligence sectors under CAATSA Section 231.  The US Government also clarified the scope of a sanctions waiver impacting foreign subsidiaries in Russia under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (the “CBW Act”).  Finally, the US Government extended the expiration dates for several general licenses related to United Company RUSAL PLC (“RUSAL”) and EN+ Group PLC (“EN+ Group”).

Today, the US Department of State issued a press release indicating that the US Government will be imposing new sanctions on Russia for the use of a “Novichok” nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, based on its August 6, 2018, determination under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (“CBW Act”) that the Russian Government has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals.  The CBW Act requires the President to impose sanctions on a foreign country with respect to which such a determination has been made.