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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office

Annual Report 1999-2000

Output D CWC Implementation

Operation of the national authority for implementation of the CWC, including contribution to effective international implementation of the CWC, particularly in Australias immediate region.

Milestone D1

Effective performance as the national focal point for liaison with the OPCW and other States Parties in relation to the fulfilment of Australias obligations under the CWC.

Activities

Interaction with the OPCW

In accordance with Australias obligations under the CWC, ASNO prepared and submitted routine declarations and notifications to the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW during the year, and facilitated the conduct of four routine on-site inspections in Australia by the OPCW.

In September and October 1999, ASNO submitted routine CWC Article VI declarations on activities anticipated for 2000 for a total of 12 facilities working with Scheduled chemicals. In March 2000, declarations were submitted for 1999 on international transfers of Scheduled chemicals and for work in 60 facilities with CWC-relevant activities. These declarations were compiled using information gathered through the operation of the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994, and information on imports and exports of Scheduled chemicals obtained from Customs data, export-licensing records and also through extensive industry surveys.

ASNO and OPCW inspectors during a Schedule 3 inspection in Australia - photograph courtesy of Ticor

In the reporting period ASNO facilitated four routine OPCW inspections, including the first sequential inspection to take place in Australia.

During October/November 1999, the OPCW carried out sequential inspections at two commercial large-scale Schedule 3 production facilities, one located in Western Australia and the other in Queensland. Inspectors checked consistency of activities with declarations and confirmed the absence of any Schedule 1 chemical at both sites. The OPCW agreed with the assessments of both ASNO and the facility operators that facility agreements under the CWC were not warranted in either case. Given the geographic location of the two sites, facilitating the smooth transfer of inspectors and their equipment between sites was a major logistical challenge.

The third OPCW inspection took place in February 2000 at a commercial facility producing a Schedule 3 chemical in significant quantities. As with the earlier inspections, the accuracy of the declaration and the absence of Schedule 1 chemistry on-site were checked. Again the OPCW agreed with the assessments of both ASNO and the facility operator that a facility agreement was not warranted.

The second systematic re-inspection of Australias single declarable Schedule 1 facilitythe Defence Science and Technology Organisation Aeronautical and Maritime Research Laboratories in Maribyrnong, Victoriatook place in April 2000. In accordance with CWC requirements, the objective of the inspection was to verify the information provided in Australias declarations with respect to this facility, and that Schedule 1 chemicals were not being diverted or used in undeclared activities.

Other Article VI declarations and notifications to the OPCW during 1999-2000 included: six advance notifications of proposed imports of Schedule 1 chemicals; notifications in relation to approval of inspectors designated to Australia; and as a means of promoting transparency and consistency amongst States Parties, details of the criteria which Australia had used for reporting Schedule 2 and 3 aggregate national data and for making plant site declarations.

In accordance with obligations under Article X, and for the purposes of promoting transparency between States Parties, ASNO submitted to the OPCW an annual declaration of Australias national chemical defence program. ASNO worked closely with the Department of Defence in compiling this declaration.

During November 1999, Mr Jos Bustani, Director-General of the OPCW, visited Australia, including a visit to ASNO where he discussed a range of CWC related issues. In particular, this visit provided a useful opportunity to explain to Mr Bustani our initiatives with regard to both raising public awareness of the CWC in Australia and ASNO頒s involvement in regional and international work relating to effective implementation of the Convention.

ASNO (alternately Dr Geoffrey Shaw, Head CWC Implementation and Mr Andrew Leask, AS ASNO) actively participated in a series of industry cluster meetings convened by the OPCW and held in The Hague on an approximately quarterly basis, to resolve outstanding technical issues faced by States Parties in implementing the CWC. Issues included, inter alia: low concentration limits for plant site declarations and international transfers of Scheduled chemicals; rounding rules for plant site declarations; access to records during Schedule 2 and 3 inspections; and Schedule 3 plant site selection methodology.

In addition, Dr Shaw was invited by the OPCW Technical Secretariat to present a paper to the second Annual Meeting of National Authorities and Chemical Industry, held in The Hague in May 2000 and attended by delegates from over 100 States Parties. The aim of such international meetings is to promote transparency and cooperation between national authorities, including regional cooperation, as a means of improving the effectiveness of national implementation of the Convention. Drawing upon practical experiences, Dr Shaws presentation focused on Australian experiences with import-export control under the CWC and the harmonised export system. Following on from this meeting, Dr Shaw participated in the OPCW Fifth Conference of States Parties.

Dealings with other States Parties

Following an invitation from the Government of Vietnam, ASNO, in conjunction with the OPCW, organised and participated in a CWC workshop in Hanoi during November 1999. The aim of the workshop was to provide practical assistance to Vietnamese officials to help them understand and implement national obligations under the CWC. ASNO has received a request from another State Party to provide similar assistance.

Dr Shaw received an invitation to make a presentation on Australias implementation experiences at the inaugural Singapore CWC Regional Forum, held in Singapore in May 2000, and attended by delegates from approximately 25 countries. This provided a good opportunity to advance Australias position on a number of technical implementation issues, while bilateral discussions with other delegates at the meeting provided useful insights into how the CWC is being implemented in a number of ASEAN States.

ASNO continued its extensive liaison with counterparts in Canada throughout the year in providing assistance with respect to enacting implementing CWC legislation and coordinating efforts at industry cluster meetings. Also ASNO continued to liaise with New Zealand counterparts to help them identify potentially declarable CWC activities in that country.

In collaboration with the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI), the Department of Defence and the OPCW, ASNO has commenced preparations to host a regional CWC workshop in Melbourne in May 2001. The focus of the meeting will be twofold: namely to facilitate the exchange of information and experiences; and to promote cooperation amongst participants, especially at the government, industry and academic levels. A national symposium building upon tangible ideas from the workshop will follow immediately. It is intended that this symposium will target domestic industry and academic representatives.

Performance Assessment

By providing accurate and timely declarations and notifications to the OPCW, ASNO has maintained Australias strong record of performance in meeting its CWC commitments. Recognition of excellence is reflected in invitations from the OPCW and other States Parties to participate in international meetings and to present on Australias experiences in implementing the Convention.

The four inspections conducted by the OPCW during the year proceeded smoothly. While inspectors were able to fulfil their mandate, ASNO ensured that legitimate commercial and other activities were not unduly affected by these exercises. Inspection reports reflected well upon the performance of ASNO in effectively facilitating these inspections.

A number of recommendations resulting from the series of industry cluster meetings were adopted by the 5th Conference of States Parties in May 2000.

Following the implementation workshop, Vietnam was able to submit its initial CWC declaration. Formal expressions of gratitude for assistance provided either at the workshop in the case of Vietnam, or throughout the year in the case of Canada, have been received from respective Governments.

Milestone D2

Activities and facilities in Australia relevant to CWC declarations are identified and the systems of permits and notifications established by the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994, and Regulation 5J of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations are operated effectively and/or amended as necessary.

Activities

Permits and Notifications

During the year ASNO identified one additional facility which required a permit under the Act to process a Schedule 2 chemical.

Table 5 Permits for CWC Scheduled Chemical Facilities held at 30 June 2000

Subsection

19(4)

19(5)

19(6)

18(1)

18(1)

Facility

Schedule 1

Schedule 1

Schedule 1

Schedule 2

Schedule 3

Type

Protective facility

Research facility

Consumption facility

Processing facility

Production facility

Number

1

7

2

11

4

Valid notifications under subsection 29(1) were received from 49 companies in relation to production of discrete organic chemicals during 1999.

ASNO provided reminders to each company or organisation of their obligations to ensure legislative requirements were met.

Industry Consultations

As from May 2000, the OPCW verification regime has been extended to cover facilities producing unscheduled discrete organic chemicals. While the probability of any one site receiving an inspection is low, ASNO has, nonetheless, been active in consulting with industry to advise of this possibility and provided details on how such inspections may work in practice. To this end, ASNO has published and distributed information packages to all potentially affected facilities, in addition to carrying out a series of comprehensive on-site consultations with facility representatives.

Amendments to Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations

Minor amendments to Regulation 5J of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, necessary to implement an OPCW Executive Council decision with respect to international trade in the CWC Schedule 1 chemical saxitoxin, and to regulate the import of CWC Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals from January 2000, received Royal Assent in December 1999.

The amendments mean that import licensing arrangements have been extended to cover Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals. However, as Australias reporting obligations for Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals are less intensive than for those applying to Schedule 1 chemicals, a simplified licensing arrangement has been introduced which allows for multiple shipments of a particular Schedule 2 or 3 chemical in any given year.

The need to regulate Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals has arisen because, as from April 2000, trade in Schedule 2 chemicals is restricted to CWC States Parties, while similar trade restrictions may also extend to Schedule 3 chemicals from April 2002. The permit system introduced clarifies the legislative basis for Australia collecting the international trade data needed to fulfil Treaty obligations, and also ensures Australia does not inadvertently breach Convention obligations by importing Schedule 2 chemicals from non-States Parties.

ASNO published and distributed approximately 500 information packages to importers detailing the change to the import regulations as pertaining to CWC Scheduled chemicals. In addition, ASNO personally contacted all known importers of CWC Schedules chemicals to explain these amendments.

During the year, ASNO issued 28 import permits covering Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals, and 3 permits covering Schedule 1 chemicals.

While permits to import Schedule 2 and Schedule 3 chemicals have been required since January 2000, in order to collect trade data for 1999 ASNO was required to conduct an extensive survey of chemical importers. Therefore over 220 importers were contacted, although it transpired that very few companies actually imported Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals (less than 25 companies were identified).

Performance Assessment

The system of permits and notifications operated satisfactorily during 1999-2000. As indicated, ASNO was very pro-active in assisting Australian industry to make the various declarations and in notifying industry of changes, such as commencement of the OPCW inspection regime for non-Scheduled chemical producers and changes to import requirements for Scheduled chemicals. Australian industry has expressed strong appreciation for ASNO's efforts in this regard.

Amendments to Regulation 5J of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations were agreed with Customs, proceeded through Executive Council and received Royal Assent in December 1999.

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