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Russia, US, UK agree on need to reinforce Biological Weapons Convention

"The world faces significant challenges in terms of biosecurity," the three nations said in a statement

MOSCOW, November 2. /TASS/. Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom believe it important to strengthen measures to prohibit biological and toxin weapons, the three countries said in a statement published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website on Thursday.

"The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States agree that the world faces significant challenges in terms of biosecurity, including the threat of development, acquisition, and use of biological weapons by state and non-state actors and advances in science and technology, which have the potential for great benefits but could also be used to cause harm," the statement reads.

"Therefore, we agree on the vital importance of reinforcing the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention in order to strengthen the international community’s ability to address these challenges," the three countries added.

The document also says that "with one month remaining until the meeting of the BWC States Parties from 4-8 December 2017 in Geneva, it is vital to redouble efforts to build consensus around the next program of work the adoption of which in our common view must be the main outcome of that meeting." "This year’s meeting of States Parties has a unique role assigned by last year’s Eighth Review Conference," the document stressed.

The three countries went on to say that "notwithstanding the differences that we have in regard to how the enhanced implementation of the Convention may be best achieved, we are convinced that States Parties should unite to ensure action in support of the Convention." "The Russian Federation the United Kingdom, and the United States believe that BWC States Parties should seize the opportunity presented by the December Meeting of States Parties to agree on a new program of work that will provide for substantive discussion and meaningful action to address today’s biosecurity challenges," the statement added.

Setting up working groups

According to the document, the new program of work "should include open-ended working groups on the key issues that have captured the attention of the delegations: science and technology, national implementation, international cooperation, and preparedness, response and assistance."

"These groups should prepare reports and, as appropriate, recommendations for consideration by the Meeting of States Parties," the three countries stated.

In their view, "these annual Meetings would oversee implementation of the decisions of the Eighth Review Conference (e.g., cooperation and assistance database, sponsorship program); manage the intersessional program, including by considering the reports and possible recommendations of the open-ended working groups and providing guidance for follow-up work; submitting recommendations, as appropriate, to the next Review Conference; and take necessary actions to address budgetary and financial matters with a view to ensuring the viability of the intersessional process and the decisions of the Eighth Review Conference."

"Up to fifteen days per year should be allocated to the meetings of the open-ended working groups and the annual Meeting of States Parties," the statement said adding that "equal time should be allocated to each of the open-ended working groups over the intersessional period."

"We strongly believe that such an approach would allow us to continue work to address our differences in a constructive and cooperative fashion while making progress on areas where agreement may exist. We believe that beginning such a process need not prejudice the position of any delegation on how best to achieve optimal implementation of the Convention," Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom said in the statement.