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New measures to fight the spread of chemical and biological weapons.



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Media releases and speeches are available from DFAT via the internet. http://www.dfat.gov.au/

MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER FA89 13 June 2002

NEW MEASURES TO FIGHT THE SPREAD OF CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS

I welcome the decision by Australia Group countries to tighten their export controls on materials, equipment and technology which could be used in chemical or biological warfare.

Australia, as permanent chair of the Group, continues to play a pivotal role in international efforts to tackle this grave threat to global security.

The agreement last week by the Group’s 34 participants aims to prevent the inadvertent or illicit spread of chemical and biological weapons, including to terrorist groups.

All members of the Group - which includes countries from Europe, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific - are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention. These conventions legally oblige state parties not to aid the development and production of such weapons. Export controls play a central role in fulfilling this obligation.

Other key decisions at the Group’s annual meeting in Paris included:

. To adopt formal guidelines governing the licensing of sensitive chemical and biological items, consistent with the Group’s strong commitment to transparency;

. To include in these guidelines a ‘catch-all’ provision, reflecting the resolve of participating national governments to use all means at their disposal to fight the spread of chemical and biological weapons (CBW);

. To apply more rigorous controls to the export of fermenters; . To add eight new toxins to the Group’s biological control list; . To control technology associated with dual-use biological equipment which could be used to manufacture biological weapons; and

. To control the intangible transfer of relevant information and knowledge.

The Group, created in 1985, has also released a booklet to promote awareness of the CBW threat. The booklet, Fighting the spread of chemical and biological weapons: strengthening global security, will complement the Australia Group website at www.australiagroup.net.

Media Inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02-6277 7500/0419 206 890 Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02-6261 1555