January 20, 1999
AUSTRALIA GROUP MEETING
Australia Group participants held informal consultations in Paris from 9 to 15 October 1998 on chemical and biological weapons (CBW) proliferation.
Participants discussed their national export licensing measures and procedures to ensure that they continue to be effective in preventing any contribution to chemical and biological weapons programs through the inadvertent supply of chemical precursors, biological agents and dual-use equipment and that they did not inhibit the trade in chemical precursors, biological agents and dual-use equipment for legitimate purposes. They reaffirmed that their national export licensing measures were directed solely at preventing CBW proliferation.
Participants agreed that implementing such national measures was an important way of meeting their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) by striving to prevent the intentional or inadvertent supply by their nationals of materials or equipment to chemical or biological weapons programs.
Participants encouraged all countries that are not participants in the Australia Group to implement similar measures to prevent the spread of chemical and biological weapons. They expressed their willingness to assist others in implementing such measures on a national basis.
Participants reaffirmed their strong support for the Chemical Weapons Convention. In line with Convention obligations, participants committed to keep under review their respective national exporting licensing policies to ensure that they promote the object and purpose of the CWC, are applied fairly and remain fully consistent with it.
They also welcomed efforts by the Ad Hoc Group of States Parties to strengthen the effectiveness and improve the implementation of the BTWC. All participants agreed that a legally-binding verification protocol to the BTWC should be concluded as a matter of priority.
Australia Group participating countries expressed their belief that universal adherence to and compliance with these two treaties would be the most effective way to rid the world of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. They agreed that their informal consultations complemented and were consistent with the purpose of these conventions.
Participants agreed to continue a program to promote greater awareness and understanding of the important role that national export licensing measures play in preventing CBW proliferation. This program will continue to include briefings for countries not participating in the Australia Group and regional seminars on export licensing practices.
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States participated in these talks.
Another round of consultations will be held in October 1999.