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Media Release

FA48 - 22 April 2005

Australia Group Meeting Outcomes

The Australia Group held its 20th anniversary plenary meeting in Sydney from 18-21 April. The plenary - the first to be held in Australia - was attended by delegates from the Group's 38 member countries and the European Commission.

The plenary noted the vital role the Australia Group has played over the past two decades in containing chemical and biological weapons proliferation, and expressed gratitude to Australia for its efficient and effective chairing of the Group since its inception.

The plenary agreed important new measures to enhance member countries' export controls for preventing the acquisition and use of chemical and biological weapons and set a forward-looking agenda for tackling new and emerging challenges, including terrorism.

The Group welcomed Ukraine as a new participant, bringing the total number of member countries to 39 and the European Commission. With its large chemical manufacturing sector, Ukraine will make a valuable contribution to the Group's effectiveness.

Participants also welcomed Israel's recent announcement that it would adhere to Australia Group guidelines. Recognition of Australia Group control measures as an international benchmark has grown considerably over the past year. To encourage broader adherence to the Group's measures, participants refined outreach strategies based on targeted regional approaches. They also reiterated a willingness to help countries meet their UN Security Council Resolution 1540 obligations to establish effective export controls.

Addressing concerns over terrorists' gaining dispersal devices for biological agents, delegates agreed to add the most threatening aerosol sprayers to the biological equipment control list. Existing controls on pumps and genetically modified organisms were revised to assist enforcement and help exporters better understand their obligations. The Group also agreed to examine the addition of up to 25 more biological agents to its common control lists.

The Group agreed to conduct a survey of participants' brokering controls to develop best practice guidelines. Tighter brokering controls will help break up procurement activities, such as those undertaken until recently by Abdul Qadeer Khan's proliferation network.

Delegates also reaffirmed their commitment to ensure that export controls do not hinder legitimate trade and technical cooperation in the chemical and biological sectors.

Further information on the Australia Group's activities.

Media inquiries : Ministerial 02 6277 7500 , DFAT Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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