MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER


FA135

6 November 1997

RUSSIA RATIFIES CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION

1 warmly welcome Russia's ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on 5 November. I congratulate President Yeltsin for his leadership in taking forward Russia's commitment to this important disarmament and non-proliferation treaty. Russia's implementation of the Convention will make a vital contribution to the fight against the proliferation of chemical weapons and to the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles.

Australia has been among those countries which have encouraged Russia to take this important step. We have made representations at the highest levels of the Russian administration and Parliament.

Australia has a close interest in the CWC because its effective implementation has direct implications for our national security. The CWC, which is the first comprehensively verifiable multilateral treaty that bans an entire class of weapons, represents the best means of preventing the spread of chemical weapons both globally and more specifically into our own region.

I look forward to a cooperative relationship with Russia as we work together to achieve the abolition of a weapon of mass destruction which has killed tens of thousands of people this century. I also encourage those countries which have not yet done so to ratify the Convention in order to ensure that the world is rid of these weapons for all time.

The Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force on 29 April 1997. Australia played an important role in the negotiation of the Convention and ratified in May 1994, the sixth country to do so. Australia has actively encouraged many countries, particularly in our region, to join the treaty regime. To this end, we have provided technical assistance and advice on domestic preparations required for treaty implementation.

Moscow