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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 14, April 1997

US Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) Ratification

The Senate ratified the Convention on the evening of 24 April by a vote of 74 votes to 26. See next issue for further details and reaction. See below and News Review for materials relevant to the build-up to the vote.

I: Reaction to the vote

Remarks by President Clinton

'Remarks by the President after the vote on ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention,' The White House, 24 April 1997

The President made his remarks at 10.51 p.m. (US Eastern Standard Time), a few minutes after the vote was taken.

Full text

"Ladies and gentlemen, the United States Senate has served America well tonight. Because they have ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, our troops will be less likely to face poison gas on the battlefield, our hand will be strengthened in the fight against terrorists and rogue states. We will end a century that began with the horror of chemical weapons in World War I much closer to the elimination of those kinds of weapons. And once again, America has displayed the leadership that we must demonstrate as we build a safer world for the 21st century.

Two and a half months ago, Majority Leader Lott and I put together a process to work through the concerns that some senators had about the treaty. Our negotiating teams held 30 hours of meetings. So did groups led by Senator Biden and Senator Helms. At the end of the day, because we went the extra mile, we resolved the problems that had been raised by the vast majority of the senators.

I thank the Majority Leader for guiding these efforts so successfully. I applaud the efforts of senators on both sides of the aisle, including Minority Leader Daschle, Senator Biden, Senator Lugar, and Senator McCain. And I've been so gratified that in these past few weeks so many have put politics aside to join together behind this treaty, as we saw yesterday when Senator Dole and General Powell, Brent Scowcroft and other Republicans joined me, as they had previously.

I thank the Vice President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and so many of our military leaders, past and present, who also came out strongly in support of this treaty.

This vote is an example of America working as it should, Democrats and Republicans together, putting our country first, reaching across party lines, reaching for the common good. This vote is vivid proof that we are stronger as a nation when we work together. It's true when it comes to our leadership in the world; it's also true when it comes to dealing with our challenges here at home -- strengthening our education system, finishing the job of reforming welfare, fighting crime, defending the environment, and finishing the job of balancing the budget.

The Chemical Weapons Convention truly was made in America, under two of my predecessors. It is right for America. Now it has been ratified in America, and it will make our future more secure. For that, on behalf of the American people, I am profoundly grateful to the United States Senate."

Presidential message to the Senate

Editor's note: see below for details of the conditions of ratification, referred to in the President's message, agreed between the Administration and Senate.

'To the Senate of the United States,' Statement by the President, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 25 April 1997

Full text

"I am gratified that the United States Senate has given its advice and consent to the ratification of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (the 'Convention').

During the past several months, the Senate and the Administration, working together, have prepared a resolution of advice and consent to ratification of unusual breadth and scope. The resolution that has now been approved by the Senate by a strong, bipartisan vote of 74-26 contains 28 different Conditions covering virtually every issue of interest and concern. I will implement these provisions. I will, of course, do so without prejudice to my Constitutional authorities, including for the conduct of diplomatic exchanges and the implementation of treaties. A Condition in a resolution of ratification cannot alter the allocation of authority and responsibility under the Constitution.

I note that Condition (2) on Financial Contributions states that no funds may be drawn from the Treasury for payments or assistance under the Convention without statutory authorization and appropriation. I will interpret this Condition in light of the past practice of the Congress as not precluding the utilization of such alternatives as appropriations provisions that serve as a statutory authorization.

I am grateful to Majority Leader Lott, Minority Leader Daschle, and Senators Helms, Biden, Lugar, Levin, McCain and the many others who have devoted so much time and effort to this important ratification effort. It is clear that the practical result of our work together on the Convention will well serve the common interest of advancing the national security of the United States. In this spirit, I look forward to the entry into force of the treaty and express my hope that it will lead to even more important advances in United States, allied, and international security."

Presidential message to Congress

'To the Congress of the United States,' Statement by the President, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 25 April 1997

Full text

"In accordance with the resolution of advice and consent to ratification of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, adopted by the Senate of the United States on 24 April, 1997, I hereby certify that:

In connection with Condition (1), Effect of Article XXII, the United States has informed all other States Parties to the Convention that the Senate reserves the right, pursuant to the Constitution of the United States, to give its advice and consent to ratification of the Convention subject to reservations, notwithstanding Article XXII of the Convention.

In connection with Condition (7), Continuing Vitality of the Australia Group and National Export Controls:

(i) nothing in the Convention obligates the United States to accept any modification, change in scope, or weakening of its national export controls;

(ii) the United States understands that the maintenance of national restrictions on trade in chemicals and chemical production technology is fully compatible with the provisions of the Convention, including Article XI(2), and solely within the sovereign jurisdiction of the United States;

iii) the Convention preserves the right of State Parties, unilaterally or collectively, to maintain or impose export controls on chemicals and related chemical production technology for foreign policy or national security reasons, notwithstanding Article XI(2); and

(iv) each Australia Group member, at the highest diplomatic levels, has officially communicated to the United States Government its understanding and agreement that export control and nonproliferation measures which the Australia Group has undertaken are fully compatible with the provisions of the Convention, including Article XI(2), and its commitment to maintain in the future such export controls and nonproliferation measures against non-Australia Group members.

In connection with Condition (9), Protection of Advanced Biotechnology, the legitimate commercial activities and interests of chemical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical firms in the United States are not being significantly harmed by the limitations of the Convention on access to, and production of, those chemicals and toxins listed in Schedule 1 of the Annex on chemicals. In connection with Condition (15), Assistance Under Article X, the United States shall not provide assistance under paragraph 7(a) of Article X, and, for any State Party the government of which is not eligible for assistance under chapter 2 of part II (relating to military assistance) or chapter 4 of part II (relating to economic support assistance) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961:

(i) no assistance under paragraph 7(b) of Article X will be provided to the State Party; and

(ii) no assistance under paragraph 7(c) of Article X other than medical antidotes and treatment will be provided to the State Party.

In connection with Condition (18), Laboratory Sample Analysis, no sample collected in the United States pursuant to the Convention will be transferred for analysis to any laboratory outside the territory of the United States.

In connection with Condition (26), Riot Control Agents, the United States is not restricted by the Convention in its use of riot control agents, including the use against combatants who are parties to a conflict, in any of the following cases:

(i) the conduct of peacetime military operations within an area of ongoing armed conflict when the United States is not a party to the conflict (such as recent use of the United States Armed Forces in Somalia, Bosnia, and Rwanda);

(ii) consensual peacekeeping operations when the use of force is authorized by the receiving state, including operations pursuant to Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter; and

(iii) peacekeeping operations when force is authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

In connection with Condition (27), Chemical Weapons Destruction, all the following conditions are satisfied:

(A) I have agreed to explore alternative technologies for the destruction of the United States stockpile of chemical weapons in order to ensure that the United States has the safest, most effective and environmentally sound plans and programs for meeting its obligations under the convention for the destruction of chemical weapons;

(B) the requirement in section 1412 of Public Law 99-145 (50 USC. 1521) for completion of the destruction of the United States stockpile of chemical weapons by 31 December, 2004, will be superseded upon the date the Convention enters into force with respect to the United States by the deadline required by the Convention of 29 April, 2007;

(C) the requirement in Article III(1)(a)(v) of the Convention for a declaration by each State Party not later than 30 days after the date the Convention enters into force with respect to that Party, on general plans of the State Party for destruction of its chemical weapons does not preclude in any way the United States from deciding in the future to employ a technology for the destruction of chemical weapons different than that declared under that Article; and

(D) I will consult with the Congress on whether to submit a request to the Executive Council of the Organization for an extension of the deadline for the destruction of chemical weapons under the Convention, as provided under Part IV(A) of the Annex on Implementation and Verification to the Convention, if, as a result of the program of alternative technologies for the destruction of chemical munitions carried out under section 8065 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 1997 (as contained in Public Law 104-208), I determine that alternatives to the incineration of chemical weapons are available that are safer and more environmentally sound but whose use would preclude the United States from meeting the deadlines of the Convention.

In connection with Condition (28), Constitutional Protection Against Unreasonable Search and Seizure:

(i) for any challenge inspection conducted on the territory of the United States pursuant to Article IX, where consent has been withheld, the United States National Authority will first obtain a criminal search warrant based upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and describing with particularity the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized; and

(ii) for any routine inspection of a declared facility under the Convention that is conducted on an involuntary basis on the territory of the United States, the United States National Authority first will obtain an administrative search warrant from a United States magistrate judge.

In accordance with Condition (26) on Riot Control Agents, I have certified that the United States is not restricted by the Convention in its use of riot control agents in various peacetime and peacekeeping operations. These are situations in which the United States is not engaged in a use of force of a scope, duration and intensity that would trigger the laws of war with respect to US forces.

In connection with Condition (4)(A), Cost Sharing arrangements, which calls for a report identifying all cost-sharing arrangements with the Organization, I hereby report that because the Organization is not yet established and will not be until after entry into force of the Convention, as of this date there are no cost-sharing arrangements between the United States and the Organization to identify. However, we will be working with the Organization upon its establishment to develop such arrangements with it and will provide additional information to the Congress in the annual reports contemplated by this Condition."

Statement by UN Secretary-General

'Secretary-General welcomes United States Senate approval of Chemical Weapons Convention,' Statement by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, SG/SM/6225, 25 April 1997

Full text

"I welcome the action by the United States Senate, which voted yesterday to approve the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The potential of this significant agreement to strengthen international peace and security depends on the degree of universality it achieves.

I look forward, therefore, to formal ratification of the Convention by the United States, as well as by other States which have not yet done so."

II: The Build-Up to the Vote

17 April Statement by the President

'Senate Decision to Bring Chemical Weapons Convention to a Vote,' Statement by the President, The White House, 17 April 1997.

Full text

"I welcome today's unanimous agreement by the Senate to bring the Chemical Weapons Convention to a vote next week. This treaty - initiated by the Reagan Administration, completed and signed by the Bush Administration, submitted to the Senate by my administration - has been bipartisan from the beginning. Now, thanks to the good faith efforts of Majority Leader Lott and Minority Leader Daschle - working closely with my national security team and key members of the Senate from both sides of the aisle - the Senate will be able to vote on the treaty before it goes into effect on 29 April.

Over the past two and a half months, we have all gone the extra mile to work through outstanding concerns about the treaty. As a result of negotiations Senator Lott and I established, and discussions led by Senators Biden and Helms, we now have agreement on 28 conditions that will be included in the treaty's resolution of ratification when it goes to a vote - resolving virtually all of the issues that have been raised about the CWC.

Just today, our negotiators reached agreement concerning the use of Riot Control Agents like tear gas and to require warrants for any involuntary searches of an American business or facility under the treaty's inspection provisions. We still have five issues on which we fundamentally disagree - but we are now assured, thanks to today's agreement, that they will be decided by votes of the full Senate.

These important developments reflect widespread, bipartisan and growing support for the Chemical Weapons Convention. Yesterday, former Presidents Bush and Ford joined Secretary of State Albright in making a special appeal for ratification. Today, at a Congressional hearing, former Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell strongly reiterated his endorsement of the treaty - which also has the support of every other Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the past two decades. And three former Secretaries of Defense - Harold Brown, Elliot Richardson and Bill Perry - released a joint statement calling for the Senate to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention.

All of these distinguished American leaders agree that by requiring countries around the world to destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles - as the United States already has decided to do - and to renounce developing or trading in chemical weapons in the future, the Chemical Weapons Convention will help make our troops safer while making it harder for rogue states and terrorists to acquire chemical weapons.

This treaty literally was 'made in America' and it also is right for America. I urge every member of the Senate to support the Chemical Weapons Convention when it comes to a vote next week."

24 April letter from the President on Senate concerns

Letter from President Clinton to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, White House text, 24 April 1997

Full text

"During Senate ratification proceedings on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), concerns have been raised over Article X, which provides for certain types of defensive assistance in the event that a State that has joined the treaty and renounced any chemical weapons (CW) capability is threatened with or suffers a chemical weapons attack, and Article XI, which encourages free trade in non-prohibited chemicals among states that adhere to the CWC. Some have suggested that these Articles could result in the CWC promoting, rather than stemming, CW proliferation despite States Parties' general obligation under Article I 'never under any circumstances...to assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.'

To respond to these concerns, the Administration has worked closely with the Senate to develop conditions relating to both Articles that have been incorporated in the resolution of ratification (Agreed Conditions #7 and 15). These two conditions would substantially reinforce and strengthen the treaty by:

* prohibiting the United States under Article X from (a) providing the CWC organization with funds that could be used for chemical weapons defense assistance to other State Parties; and (b) giving certain states that might join the treaty any assistance other than medical antidotes and treatment.

* requiring the President to (a) certify that the CWC will not weaken the export controls established by the Australia Group and that each member of the Group intends to maintain such controls; (b) block any attempt within the Group to adopt a contrary position; and (c) report annually as to whether Australia Group controls remain effective.

With respect to the latter condition, I am pleased to inform you that we have now received official confirmations from the highest diplomatic levels in each of the 30 Australia Group nations that they agree that the Group's export control and nonproliferation measures are compatible with the CWC and that they are committed to maintain such controls in the future.

While supporting these guarantees and safeguards, you expressed the concern on Sunday that nations might still try to use Article X or XI to take proscribed actions that could undercut US national security interests, notwithstanding the best efforts of US diplomacy to prevent such actions. I am, therefore, prepared to provide the following specific assurances related to the two Articles:

In the event that a State Party or States Parties to the Convention act contrary to the obligations under Article I by:

(A) using Article X to justify providing defensive CW equipment, material or information to another State Party that could result in US chemical protective equipment being compromised so that US warfighting capabilities in a CW environment are significantly degraded;

(B) using Article XI to justify chemical transfers that would make it impossible for me to make the annual certification that the Australia Group remains a viable and effective mechanism for controlling CW proliferation; or

(C) carrying out transfers or exchanges under either Article X or XI which jeopardize US national security interests by promoting CW proliferation:

I would, consistent with Article XVI of the CWC, regard such actions as extraordinary events that have jeopardized the supreme interests of the United States and therefore, in consultation with the Congress, be prepared to withdraw from the treaty."

Ratification Conditions: 15 April letter and statement from Senator Biden

'Senator Biden letter and summary of 23 CWC conditions,' United States Information Agency, 15 April 1997

Editor's note: the letter was sent by Democrat Senator Joseph Binding, Ranking Minority Member, to every Senate member. See News Review for background.

Letter: full text

"I enclose for your review a package of 23 conditions relating to the Chemical Weapons Convention. These conditions are the product of nearly 60 hours of intense negotiations over the past two-and-one-half months.

The negotiations that led to this package were conducted in two phases. First, the White House held 30 hours of discussion in eight separate meetings with a task force established by the Majority Leader. The second phase consisted of approximately 28 hours of discussion over ten separate meetings coordinated by myself and Chairman Helms.

I am confident that after reviewing this package, you will agree that we were able to make significant progress in addressing many of the key areas of concern over the CWC. We have augmented existing protections for industry. We have agreed to conditions to hold down US costs under the convention and to establish an inspector general. We have added requirements to ensure that instances of noncompliance will be subject to tough US enforcement action. We have mandated detailed reporting requirements on US monitoring of chemical weapons activities. We require the Secretary of Defense to maintain robust chemical and biological defenses for US troops. We have established strict standards for the sharing of US intelligence information. We have obligated the President to obtain assurances from our Australia Group allies that Article XI of the CWC is fully consistent with maintenance of strict export controls on dangerous chemicals. We have rejected any attempt by Russia to link its own ratification of the CWC to the receipt of US assistance for chemical weapons destruction.

The administration is continuing to discuss additional items with the Majority Leader, which may result in further agreed conditions.

I believe that the time has now come to bring this impressive package to the floor and allow Senators the opportunity to vote on a resolution of ratification containing these conditions. The handful of items in disagreement should be brought to the floor as well so that the Senate may have the opportunity to decide them on their merits.

Time is running short. In just two weeks the CWC will enter into force with or without the United States. Having addressed the key concerns many had over the convention, the time has come to act."

'Summary of the 23 agreed conditions on the CWC': full text

"(1) EFFECT ON ARTICLE XX - Asserts the Senate's right under the Constitution to add reservations to the convention.

(2) FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS - Assures congressional oversight of any funds provided under the CWC.

(3) ESTABLISHMENT OF AN INTERNAL OVERSIGHT OFFICE - Requires that the CWC organization have an Inspector General.

(4) COST-SHARING ARRANGEMENTS - Holds down US costs by requiring cost-sharing arrangements.

(5) INTELLIGENCE SHARING - Establishes strict standards for sharing US intelligence information with the CWC organization.

(6) AMENDMENTS TO THE CONVENTION - Requires the executive branch to submit all amendments to the CWC to the Senate for its advice and consent.

(7) CONTINUING VITALITY OF THE AUSTRALIA GROUP AND NATIONAL EXPORT CONTROLS - Requires the President to obtain assurances from our Australia Group allies that Article XI is fully consistent with the maintenance of strict export controls on dangerous chemicals.

(8) NEGATIVE SECURITY ASSURANCES - Requires a classified report on the assurances we offer to other countries that forswear the use of nuclear weapons.

(9) PROTECTION OF ADVANCED BIOTECHNOLOGY - Protects the legitimate commercial activities of US chemical, biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms.

(10) MONITORING AND VERIFICATION - Requires detailed annual country-by-country reports on chemical weapons activities, compliance problems and monitoring policy of the Intelligence Community.

(11) ENHANCEMENTS TO ROBUST CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL DEFENSE - Requires the Secretary of Defense to ensure that US Armed Forces are effectively equipped, organized, trained and exercised to conduct military missions in CW and BW environments.

(12) NONCOMPLIANCE - Requires the President to ensure that that instances of noncompliance will be subject to tough US enforcement action.

(13) PRIMACY OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION - Ensures that nothing in the Convention requires any action by the US prohibited by the Constitution.

(14) FINANCING RUSSIAN IMPLEMENTATION - Requires the United States to reject any effort by Russia to make Russia's CWC ratification contingent upon US financial guarantees to cover Russian destruction costs.

(15) ASSISTANCE UNDER ARTICLE X - Requires the United States to limit its assistance to certain countries of particular concern to medical antidotes and treatments.

(16) CONSTITUTIONAL PREROGATIVES - Sense of the Senate that US negotiators should not agree to future treaties that bar reservations.

(17) ADDITIONS TO THE ANNEX ON CHEMICALS - Further protects US industry by requiring the President to notify and consult with Congress when a chemical is proposed for addition to the CWC schedules.

(18) EFFECT ON TERRORISM - Senate finding that CW terrorism remains a threat.

(19) CONSTITUTIONAL SEPARATION OF POWERS - Senate declaration that the United States should not be denied its vote in the CWC organization.

(20) THE ON-SITE INSPECTIONS AGENCY - Sense of the Senate that OSIA should be authorized to provide assistance to US facilities subject to routine inspections under the CWC.

(21) FURTHER ARMS REDUCTIONS OBLIGATIONS - Sets forth the Senate position reaffirming its role regarding agreements that limit or reduce US forces or armaments.

(22) TREATY INTERPRETATION - Reaffirms Senate role in treaty making.

(23) CHEMICAL WEAPONS DESTRUCTION - Confirms that the President will explore possible alternative technologies for the destruction of the US chemical weapons stockpile."

White House statement on ratification conditions

'CWC Agreed Conditions,' Statement by the Press Secretary, White House, 16 April 1997

Full text

"In late January, President Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Lott agreed to establish a process to address concerns raised by members of the Republican Caucus regarding the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). During the last two and a half months, over 60 hours of negotiations have taken place on various issues related to the CWC. These negotiations began in a series of meetings conducted between the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Samuel R. Berger, and a nine-member Senate Task Force established by the Majority Leader. Following additional meetings at the senior staff level between the administration and Senator Lott's Task Force, a second phase of negotiations was conducted between the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Jesse Helms, and its Ranking Minority Member, Senator Joe Biden.

The discussions have focused on a package of 'conditions' to be included in the Senate resolution of ratification on the CWC. These conditions are binding between the Senate and the President, but do not constitute amendments to the treaty itself. Yesterday, Senator Biden released a package of 23 conditions agreed to by himself and Senator Helms as a result of the process initiated by Senator Lott and the President in January. The agreed conditions underscore the extraordinary progress achieved since January in addressing virtually all of the issues raised in the debate over this treaty.

Among the 23 are conditions that would require the Secretary of Defense to maintain robust chemical and biological defenses for US troops; ensure that instances of noncompliance will be subject to tough US enforcement action; require the US, under Article X, to limit any assistance to countries of concern, such as Cuba and Iran, to medical antidotes and treatment; obligate the President to obtain assurances from our Australia Group allies that Article XI is fully consistent with maintaining strict export controls on dangerous chemicals; and ensure that nothing in the CWC requires any action by the US prohibited by the Constitution.

The administration is continuing discussions with Senator Lott on a few issues of particular importance, including search warrants and use of riot control agents in certain wartime situations. In those areas where agreement cannot be reached, the administration has proposed conditions that it believes address the underlying concern with regard to the operation and effectiveness of the treaty. The administration looks forward to the Senate joining these issues with debate and votes prior to 29 April, the deadline for the US joining the CWC as an original State Party."

Statement by former Defense Secretaries

Statement by the Honourable Harold Brown, Elliot Richardson, and William Perry, former Secretaries of Defense, on the Chemical Weapons Convention,' Department of Defense text, 18 April 1997

Full text

"As former secretaries of defense, we would like to join former military leaders including past chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Generals Colin Powell, John Vessey, David Jones and Admiral William Crowe, and former chiefs of staff from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, plus other combat veterans like General Norman Schwarzkopf in offering our strong support for the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

We firmly believe that US ratification of the CWC will contribute significantly to the security interests of the United States and the safety of our armed forces. In conjunction with the Department of Defense's other efforts against chemical weapons proliferation, a robust chemical protection program and maintenance of a range of non-chemical response capabilities, the CWC will serve the best interests of the United States and the world community. In light of the decision under President Reagan to get rid of the vast majority of US chemical weapons stockpiles, it is in our interests to require other nations to do the same. The access provided for by the treaty will enhance our ability to monitor world-wide CW activities.

We believe the CWC, which was negotiated under Presidents Reagan and Bush and completed by President Bush, to be a carefully considered treaty that serves our national interests well. Failure to ratify the CWC would send a clear signal of US retreat from international leadership to both our friends and to our potential adversaries and would damage our ability to inhibit the proliferation of chemical weapons."

Source: 'Text - Former Defense Secretaries urge CWC ratification,' United States Information Agency, 21 April.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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