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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 10, November 1996

Clinton letter on weapons of mass destruction 'emergency'

Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate, 12 November 1996


"On 14 November, 1994, in light of the dangers of the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons ('weapons of mass destruction' - (WMD)) and of the means of delivering such weapons, I issued Executive Order 12938, and declared a national emergency under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 USC. 1701 et seq.). Under section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 USC. 1622(d)), the national emergency terminates on the anniversary date of its declaration, unless I publish in the Federal Register and transmit to the Congress a notice of its continuation.

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. Therefore, I am hereby advising the Congress that the national emergency declared on 14 November, 1994, and extended on 14 November, 1995, must continue in effect beyond 14 November, 1996. Accordingly, I have extended the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12938...

[The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)]

The threat of chemical weapons is one of the most pressing security challenges of the post-Cold War era. With bipartisan support from the Congress, the United States has long been a leader in the international fight against the spread of chemical weapons. Democrats and Republicans have worked hard together to strengthen our security by concluding the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (the Chemical Weapons Convention or CWC).

The CWC bans an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. It is both an arms control and a nonproliferation treaty that requires total elimination of chemical weapons stocks, prohibits chemical weapons-related activities, bans assistance for such activities and bars trade with non-Parties in certain relevant chemicals. This treaty denies us no option we would otherwise wish to exercise and is a critical instrument in our global fight against the spread of chemical weapons.

The CWC provides concrete measures that will raise the costs and risks of engaging in chemical weapons-related activities. The CWC's declaration and inspection requirements will improve our knowledge of possible chemical weapons activities, whether conducted by countries or terrorists. The treaty's provisions constitute the most comprehensive and intrusive verification regime ever negotiated, covering virtually every aspect of a chemical weapons program, from development through production and stockpiling. These provisions provide for access to declared and undeclared facilities and locations, thus making clandestine chemical weapons production and stockpiling more difficult, more risky and more expensive.

Countries that refuse to join the CWC will be politically isolated and banned from trading with States Parties in certain key chemicals. Indeed, major chemical industry groups have testified before the Senate that our companies stand to lose millions of dollars in international sales if the United States is not a State Party when the treaty enters into force.

That could happen if we fail to ratify the CWC promptly. It is nearly four years since the Bush Administration signed the Convention and three years since this Administration submitted the CWC to the Senate for its advice and consent. All our major NATO allies have deposited their instruments of ratification, as have all other G-7 members. The CWC will enter into force 180 days after it has been ratified by 65 countries. By mid-October 1996, 64 of the 160 signatory countries had done so. It therefore seems likely the CWC will enter into force as early as April 1997.

Further delay in securing US ratification of this vital treaty serves only the interests of proliferators and terrorists. Delay may well also endanger the international competitiveness of the chemical industry, one of our largest exporters. In the interim, pressures are increasing in unstable regions to acquire and use chemical weapons. We need to ratify this convention urgently to strengthen our own security, affirm our leadership in nonproliferation and to protect our chemical industry. Ratification must be a top priority of the new Congress in early 1997.

During the reporting period, the United States continued to be active in the work of the CWC Preparatory Commission (PrepCom) in The Hague. The Prepcom is developing the vital technical and administrative procedures for implementation of the CWC through a strong organization to ensure compliance when the convention enters into force.

[The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)]

The United States is working hard with the international community to end the threat from another terrible category of weapons of mass destruction - biological weapons. We are an active member of the Ad Hoc Group striving to create a legally binding instrument to strengthen the effectiveness and improve the implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (The Biological Weapons Convention or BWC). The Ad Hoc Group was mandated by the September 1994 BWC Special Conference. The Group held meetings in July and September with the goal of preparing for the late November 1996 Fourth BWC Review Conference. Concluding a new BWC protocol is high on our list of nonproliferation goals. We should aim to complete such a protocol by 1998.

[The Australia Group]

The United States continues to be a leader in the Australia Group (AG) chemical and biological weapons nonproliferation regime. The United States supported the entry of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) - a country with an important chemical industry - into the AG. The ROK became the group's 30th member in late September - a tribute to the continuing international recognition of the importance of the Group's effort in nonproliferation and to the commitment of the ROK to that goal.

The United States attended the AG's annual plenary session from October 14-17, 1996, during which the Group continued to focus on strengthening AG export controls and sharing information to address the threat of CBW terrorism. At the behest of the United States, the AG first began in-depth discussion of terrorism during the 1995 plenary session following the Tokyo subway nerve gas attack earlier that year.

The Group also reaffirmed the members' collective belief that full adherence to the CWC and the BWC will be the best way to achieve permanent global elimination of CBW, and that all States adhering to these Conventions have an obligation to ensure that their national activities support this goal.

Australia Group participants continue to ensure that all relevant national measures promote the object and purposes of the BWC and CWC, and will be fully consistent with the CWC upon its entry into force.

The AG believes that national export licensing policies on chemical weapons-related items fulfill the obligation established under Article I of the CWC that States Parties never assist, in any way, the acquisition of chemical weapons. Inasmuch as these measures are focused solely on preventing activities banned under the CWC, they are consistent with the undertaking in Article XI of the CWC to facilitate the fullest possible exchange of chemical materials and related information for purposes not prohibited by the CWC.

The AG also agreed to continue its active program of briefings for non-AG countries, and to promote regional consultations on export controls and nonproliferation to further awareness and understanding of national policies in these areas. ...

[Missile Technology Control Regime]

The United States carefully controlled exports that could contribute to unmanned delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction, exercising restraint in considering all such proposed transfers consistent with the Guidelines of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). In May 1996, the United States imposed missile technology proliferation sanctions against two entities in Iran and one entity in North Korea for transfers involving Category II MTCR Annex items.

MTCR Partners continued to share information about proliferation problems with each other and with other potential supplier, consumer, and transshipment States. Partners also emphasized the need for implementing effective export control systems. This cooperation has resulted in the interdiction of missile-related materials intended for use in missile programs of concern.

The United States worked unilaterally and in coordination with its MTCR Partners to combat missile proliferation and to encourage non-members to export responsibly and to adhere to the MTCR Guidelines. Since my last report, we have continued our missile nonproliferation dialogue with the Republic of Korea and Ukraine. In the course of normal diplomatic relations, we also have pursued such discussions with other countries in Central Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. ...

[Developments in nuclear non-proliferation]
In a truly historic landmark in our efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons, the 50th UN General Assembly on 10 September, 1996, adopted and called for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiated over the past two and a half years in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. The overwhelming passage of this UN resolution (158-3-5) demonstrates the CTBT's strong international support and marks a major success for United States foreign policy. On September 24, I and other national leaders signed the CTBT in New York. ...

The CTBT will serve several United States national security interests in banning all nuclear explosions. It will constrain the development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons; end the development of advanced new types of nuclear weapons; contribute to the prevention of nuclear proliferation and the process of nuclear disarmament; and strengthen international peace and security. The CTBT marks an historic milestone in our drive to reduce the nuclear threat and to build a safer world.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) continues efforts to upgrade control lists and export control procedures. By October 1996, NSG members confirmed their agreement to clarifications to the nuclear trigger list to accord with trigger list changes agreed to by the members of the NPT Exporters (Zangger) Committee. The NSG also is actively pursuing steps to enhance the transparency of the export regime in accordance with the call in Principles 16 and 17 of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference. The NSG is also continuing efforts to enhance information sharing among members regarding the nuclear programs of proliferant countries.

NSG membership increased to 34 with acceptance of Brazil, the Republic of Korea and Ukraine at the 1996 Buenos Aires Plenary. Members continued contacts with Belarus, China, Kazakstan and Lithuania regarding NSG activities and guidelines. The ultimate goal of the NSG is to obtain the agreement of all suppliers, including nations not members of the regime, to control nuclear and nuclear-related exports in accordance with the NSG guidelines. ..."

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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