The Australia Group

Fighting the spread of chemical and biological weapons. Strengthening global security.

Australia Group Statement of Concern Regarding Syrian Chemical Weapons

28 January 2013

In the context of the continuing conflict in Syria and the failure of the Syrian Government to eliminate concerns about the prospect of use of chemical weapons, the Australia Group adds its collective expression of concern to global calls for Syria to renounce the use of chemical and biological weapons.

When the Australia Group met for its annual Plenary in June 2012, participants voiced their concerns in relation to Syria’s active chemical and biological weapons programs, and ongoing efforts by the Syrian Government to obtain items on the Australia Group’s common control lists, as well as other dual-use items, for proliferation purposes. These concerns were heightened by the Syrian Government’s concerning statement in July 2012 that it would consider using such weapons under certain circumstances.

The Australia Group re-affirms the vigilant position adopted by all 41 members with regard to dual-use exports to Syria and the particular scrutiny Australia Group participants afford to exports to Syria.

The Australia Group strongly supports the clear and unequivocal statements of concern about the security of, as well as the unanimous condemnation of any use of those weapons under any circumstances, from United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and OPCW Director General, Ahmet Üzümcü in early December 2012.

Chemical and biological weapons are extremely dangerous weapons of mass destruction, whose existence and use can under no circumstances be justified. The possibility of their use is completely contrary to the global sentiment which is united in condemning chemical weapons and biological weapons as abhorrent.

The Australia Group reaffirms its determination to prevent their proliferation and calls upon all parties to the conflict in Syria, and particularly the Syrian Government, as a signatory state of the Biological Weapons Convention and a party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol, to renounce the use of chemical or biological weapons under any circumstances and eliminate all such weapons forthwith.

The Australia Group urges Syria to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and ratify the Biological Weapons Convention without further delay.

The Australia Group recalls that the use of biological and chemical weapons is prohibited by customary international law and conventions, including the 1925 Geneva Protocol to which Syria is a Member State.

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