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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 22, January 1998

Documents and Sources

Statements by President Clinton

State of the Union Address

State of the Union Address to Congress, White House Transcript, 27 January 1998


"On the eve of a new century, we have the power and the duty to build a new era of peace and security. But, make no mistake about it, today's possibilities are not tomorrow's guarantees. America must stand against the poisoned appeals of extreme nationalism. We must combat an unholy axis of new threats from terrorists, international criminals and drug traffickers. These 21st century predators feed on technology and the free flow of information and ideas and people. And they will be all the more lethal if weapons of mass destruction fall into their hands.

To meet these challenges, we are helping to write international rules of the road for the 21st century, protecting those who join the family of nations and isolating those who do not. Within days, I will ask the Senate for its advice and consent to make Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic the newest members of NATO. For 50 years, NATO contained communism and kept America and Europe secure. Now these three formerly communist countries have said yes to democracy. I ask the Senate to say yes to them - our new allies. ...

I ask Congress to join me in pursuing an ambitious agenda to reduce the serious threat of weapons of mass destruction. This year, four decades after it was first proposed by President Eisenhower, a comprehensive nuclear test ban is within reach. By ending nuclear testing we can help to prevent the development of new and more dangerous weapons and make it more difficult for non-nuclear States to build them.

I'm pleased to announce four former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - Generals John Shalikashvili, Colin Powell, and David Jones, and Admiral William Crowe - have endorsed this treaty [see Editor's Note, below]. And I ask the Senate to approve it this year.

Together, we must also confront the new hazards of chemical and biological weapons, and the outlaw States, terrorists and organized criminals seeking to acquire them. Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade, and much of his nation's wealth, not on providing for the Iraqi people, but on developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons - and the missiles to deliver them. The United Nations weapons inspectors have done a truly remarkable job, finding and destroying more of Iraq's arsenal than was destroyed during the entire Gulf War. Now Saddam Hussein wants to stop them from completing their mission.

I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republicans and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein: You cannot defy the will of the world. And when I say to him: You have used weapons of mass destruction before we are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again.

Last year, the Senate ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention to protect our soldiers and citizens from poison gas. Now we must act to prevent the use of disease as a weapon of war and terror, The Biological Weapons Convention has been in effect for 23 years now. The rules are good, but the enforcement is weak. We must strengthen it with a new international inspection system to detect and deter cheating. ..."

Editor's note: the text of the endorsement of the CTBT by three former Joint Chiefs of Staff - General John Shalikashvili, General Colin Powell, Admiral William Crowe and General David Jones - was released by the White House on 28 January. The endorsement, issued on 27 January, reads: "On 22 September, 1997, President Clinton submitted the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban (CTBT) Treaty to the United States Senate for its advice and consent, together with six Safeguards that define the conditions under which the United States will enter into this Treaty. These Safeguards will strengthen our commitments in the areas of intelligence, monitoring and verification, stockpile stewardship, maintenance of our nuclear laboratories, and test readiness. They also specify the circumstances under which the President would be prepared, in consultation with Congress, to exercise our supreme national interest rights under the CTB to conduct necessary testing if the safety or reliability of our nuclear deterrent could no longer be certified. With these Safeguards, we support Senate approval of the CTB Treaty."

Speech at National Defense University

'Remarks at National Defense University', Fort McNair, Virginia White House text, 29 January 1998


"...we have to preserve and strengthen the tools of our engagement of fully-funded diplomacy backed by a strong and modern defense. Diplomacy and force are two sides of the same coin. Our diplomacy is effective precisely because it is backed by the finest military in the world. Nothing illustrates the scope of our interests or the purpose of our power better than our unified commands. No other nation in history has achieved a global force presence - not through intimidation, not through invasion - but through invitation. That is an extraordinary thing. No other nation has acquired mastery of land, sea, sky and space, and use it to help advance world peace, instead of to pursue conquest. ...

America...has vital interests in a stable Persian Gulf region. It's home to two-thirds of the world's oil resources and some of its most hostile regimes. General Zinni, our Commander-in-Chief of the Central Command, provided me today with an up-to-date assessment of Saddam's latest challenge to the community of nations. Since Desert Storm, America has worked steadily and persistently to contain the threat Saddam poses, through sanctions that deny him billions every year to rebuild his military and, where necessary, with force. We struck Iraq's intelligence headquarters after its agents plotted to murder President Bush. We convinced Saddam to pull back his troops from Kuwait's border in 1994. We tightened the strategic straightjacket on him by extending the no-fly zone when he attacked the Kurds in 1996.

As I said in the State of the Union address, we know that Saddam has used weapons of mass destruction before. We again say he should comply with the UNSCOM regime and the will of the United Nations. But, regardless, we are determined to deny him the capacity to use weapons of mass destruction again. Preventing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons from winding up in the wrong hands is among the primary challenges we face in the new security environment. Nineteen ninety-eight will be a decisive year for our arms control and nonproliferation agenda. ...

As President, the hardest decision I ever have to make is to put our troops in harm's way. Force can never be the first answer but sometimes, still, it is the only answer. We must, and we will, always do everything we can to protect our forces. We must, and will always make their safety a top priority, as I did on the issue of antipersonnel mines. But we must be strong and tough and mature as a nation - strong and tough and mature enough to recognize that even the best-prepared, best-equipped force will suffer losses in action. ...

Our obligation to our servicemen and women is to do all we can to help them succeed in their missions to provide the essential resources they need to get the job done. This week I will submit to Congress my defense budget request for the coming fiscal year - a budget that is fully consistent with the quadrennial defense review.

Readiness remains our number one priority, and my budget provides for the readiness we need in a hopeful but still hazardous time. It makes the enhancements in quality of life that our service personnel and their families deserve. It funds the procurement of sophisticated weapons to make sure our troops can be certain of victory, no matter how uncertain the future. ..."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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