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Could your goods, technology or services be misused?

Inspecting test samples

Goods which are not controlled by being included on the Defence Strategic Goods List may still be subject to export controls, if the Minister for Defence believes they may be used in a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) or be put to a Military End Use (MEU).

Military End Use

The MEU provisions of the Customs Act 1901 allow the Minister for Defence to prohibit exports, if he or she suspects that the export of particular goods to a particular place or person may be for a military end-use that would prejudice the security, defence or international relations of Australia.

The Customs Act defines the term "military end-use" to mean that the goods are or may be for use in operations, exercises or other activities conducted by an armed force or an armed group, whether or not the armed force or armed group forms part of the armed forces of the government of a foreign country.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Goods, technologies and services that could be used in a WMD program are controlled by the Weapons of Mass Destruction(Prevention of Proliferation) Act 1995 (WMD Act). The Act defines a WMD program as a plan or program for the development, production, acquisition or stockpiling of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons or missiles capable of delivering such weapons.

The WMD Act applies to:

  • the supply of goods or services both within and outside Australia for a WMD program;
  • the export of goods and technologies which are not controlled under other legislation and where there is a belief or suspicion that the goods may be used in a WMD program; and
  • the provision of services within and external to Australia, where there is a belief or suspicion that they will or may potentially assist a WMD program.

Your obligations

Important Note: If you have at any time any reason to suspect that your goods or services may be put to a military end use, or used in a weapons of mass destruction program, you should immediately contact us . You must not proceed with the export or supply of goods, or provide services, without first discussing your suspicion with us .

Prior to undertaking a transaction that may involve goods or services which could be used in an MEU or  WMD program, you should conduct your own checks to be confident that the transaction won't contribute to such a program. We have prepared an example of a checklist you could use. You should also consider the customer with whom you are dealing, and we have prepared a guide on detecting suspicious approaches.

If your organisation is a regular exporter, we have developed and published several documents that are useful tools to help you set up an internal compliance program within your organisation, as well as questionnaires and checklists for your clients and yourself that help you in performing these checks.

As a minimum, DEC suggests that you:

  1. Assess the utility of your goods, services or technology in terms of whether they may be used in, or assist with, a WMD or MEU program.
  2. Undertake checks on the parties to the transaction to determine possible links to such a program.
    • Does the destination country have a WMD Program? 
      Does the end-user country definitely, probably or possibly have a WMD program or delivery system program? You should conduct some research on WMD and proliferation topics. This website has a number of references you may find useful, including the Australia's Non-Proliferation Initiatives page and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act 1995 page.
    • Are the consignee and end-user bona-fide and do they genuinely need the goods or service?
      There are various check lists available to help you assess the bona-fides of the consignee or end-user. This website provides you with guidance on how to detect suspicious procurement approaches, as well as links to lists of entities that are listed by both the Australian Government and foreign governments as being known to be, or suspected of being, involved in the procurement of goods for WMD programs. There are also private companies and commercial providers that can conduct checks for a fee.

If you suspect that a transaction you are about to enter into may result in the goods or services being used in an MEU or WMD program, then it is an offence to proceed with the transaction without a permit issued by the Minister for Defence, or their delegate. There are significant penalties that may be imposed if you are convicted of an offence.