Efforts to outlaw chemical weapons shift to negotiations in Geneva after a 149-nation conference in Paris Wednesday condemned their use and called for the complete elimination of poison gas.

"We feel that the ban is inevitable and now is the right moment, and we shouldn't miss the opportunity," chief Soviet delegate Viktor Karpov told a news conference after the five-day conference.The conference was called by the United States and France to bolster a tottering 1925 ban on the use of chemical arms in war, and reinvigorate the long-running 40-nation Geneva talks.

It was inspired by widespread alarm over the use of chemical weapons in the Persian Gulf war, which ended last August.

Delegates from East, West and the non-aligned bloc expressed general satisfaction over the conference, which produced a declaration that reflected fierce haggling between the various interest groups.

"This conference has marked a major step along the road to the total elimination of chemical weapons," said French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas, who presided over the gathering.

Some countries expressed disappointment that the closing statement failed to reflect some of their cherished points.

Syria and Romania said they would have liked to have seen a link between chemical and nuclear disarmament, a view rejected by both superpowers which said it would cripple efforts to outlaw poison gas.

Western powers thought the statement too weak on the dangers of chemical arms proliferation and on a need for chemical export controls, viewed suspiciously by the developing countries.

"We would have liked a reference to the need for wider export controls. That simply was not acceptable to certain delegations," said chief British delegate Tessa Solesby.

There was widespread agreement that the problem of poison gas could not be solved until the Geneva talks produced a new treaty banning their production, storage and use.

The talks are entangled in the fine print of measures to ensure that poison gas is not produced in secret.

Although Dumas said the conference had revealed "no East-West confrontation nor any genuine North-South confrontation," there were sharp exchanges between Israel and its Arab foes which accused each other of amassing chemical arsenals.