TRANSCRIPT: NSC STAFF, COMMERCE DEPT. BRIEFING ON CWC
(Robert Bell, William Reinsch briefing on CWC) (6150)
White House Deputy Press Secretary David Johnson introduced Robert
Bell of the NSC Staff and Undersecretary of Commerce William Reinsch
who briefed on the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Following is the White House transcript:
THE WHITE HOUSE
April 4, 1997
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY DAVID JOHNSON
ROBERT BELL, SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR DEFENSE POLICY AND ARMS CONTROL AT
AND UNDERSECRETARY OF COMMERCE WILLIAM REINSCH
The Briefing Room
JOHNSON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the
White House Briefing Room. I have succeeded Kris Engskov -- (laughter)
-- and I am pleased to introduce today to elaborate a little bit on
some of the themes that were outlined this morning at the event for
the chemical weapons convention on the South Lawn. Bob Bell, the
Senior Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control at the National
Security Council and Bill Reinsch, the Undersecretary of Commerce for
Export Administration at the Department of Commerce. They are each
going to take a few minutes and make some remarks and then be pleased
to entertain your questions. Bob.
BELL: Thank you, David. In the event this morning on the South Lawn,
the President began by saying that, in his opinion, the speakers who
had preceded him had really said it all. And I can't improve on that
formula so I am not going to belabor the opening statement here, other
than to just touch on two points, really. And then I will ask Bill
Reinsch from the Commerce Department to talk briefly to some of the
domestic commercial and industry issues that are associated with the
debate over this treaty, and then we will be happy to take your
I would just like to underscore what I see as the significance of the
two letters that were released in concert with the event this morning.
The first one, of course, as you know, and I believe you have the
letter, was signed by General Scowcroft, Senator Nancy
Kassebaum-Baker, and Senator Boren. I think the real importance of
this letter is that it shows how wide the bipartisan support is for
this treaty as represented by these three distinguished Americans.
General Scowcroft, after all, was the National Security Advisor who,
together with Secretary of State Baker who also spoke, as you know, on
the record, really oversaw the end game of this negotiation, a
negotiation that had begun in earnest under the Reagan Administration
in the mid-80s when then-Vice President Bush went to Geneva and
actually put on the table the first comprehensive draft text for what
became the treaty, but with the real difficult decisions over the last
two years of the Bush Administration being made through a process that
was overseen by Brent Scowcroft and James Baker.
In other words, my point is that this is not a treaty that just got
sent in one day by mail from somewhere in Europe in Geneva; this was a
treaty that was negotiated in a very intensive process under U.S.
leadership with the Bush Administration with Brent
Scowcroft and Secretary Baker overseeing the hard decisions that led
to the completion of the negotiation.
Senator Kassebaum-Baker, of course, as a senior Republican on the
Foreign Relations Committee, present for the whole phase of hearings
on this, is speaking from that wing of her party about their view on
this. And Senator Boren, as one of the leading conservative Democrats,
who chaired the Intelligence Committee through the initial hearing
phase, during which that committee produced its report on the treaty,
I think shows how wide that center of support across party lines is
for the treaty.
And, second, I would just say with regard to the letter signed by the
17 four-star generals and admirals, that if you look at the titles
that accompany the names on that letter, it is really quite an
extraordinary endorsement of this treaty. You have three former
chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, you have five former service
chiefs from the JCS, five former CINCs, commanders-in-chiefs, of
regional or functional commands, one former vice chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, two former vice chairmen of their services, and two
former National Security Agency heads. So you have the collected view
of 17 very senior admirals and generals as to the military and
national security benefits of the treaty.
But perhaps even more importantly, I think, than the two letters, as
significant as they are, I would just remind you of the President's
closing comments in his remarks, where he said that the words that he
spoke himself were nothing compared to the presence, to the careers,
to the experience, to the judgment, to the patriotism of Republicans
and Democrats alike and the military leaders who have gathered on the
South Lawn to endorse the treaty. And that really speaks volumes just
in terms of the group of people that were there.
Bill, if I can ask you now to come up.
REINSCH: Thanks, Bob. The Department of Commerce is responsible, or
will be responsible once the treaty is ratified, for the domestic
implementation of the convention. And that will mean working with the
domestic industry on the data declarations that they will be
responsible for providing and then subsequently working with them to
facilitate the inspections that are going to occur in this country.
We have a long history in the Commerce Department of working very
closely with this industry on other matters as well and, in
particular, I want to note and express our appreciation to the
Chemical Manufacturers Association and the Synthetic Organic Chemical
Manufacturers Association for their consistent and unwavering support
for this convention.
It is particularly noteworthy, I think, that the companies in this
industry and in these associations that have the greatest amount at
stake in the implementation of this treaty and know the most about it
and have gone through it with the proverbial fine-tooth comb have
consistently supported it. They have done so, I believe, not only
because they share the nonproliferation goals of both this
administration and the preceding ones, but also because they
understand the commercial equities that are at stake in ratifying the
treaty and subsequently in its effective implementation.
As many of you probably know, the convention imposes, ultimately,
trade sanctions that those that don't join. It would limit trade in
chemicals between states that are parties to the convention and states
that are not. If we are not parties to the convention, both in the
short term and particularly over the long term, the ability of our
industry to sustain itself as the world's leader in the chemical
industry and as a major chemical exporter is going to be jeopardized.
They understand that, and that is one of the main reasons why they've
been supporting this treaty.
Our role at the Department has been to work very closely with them in
preparation for ratification on implementation, and particularly on
developing the data declarations that they will have to make once the
treaty goes into effect. In that regard, we spent a lot of time with
them on a whole bunch of nuts-and-bolts issues, trying to make sure
that the reporting burden on them will be minimized and there will be
maximum protection for the confidentiality of the information that the
treaty will require them to provide.
I think -- although we haven't finished this process, obviously,
because the treaty hasn't been ratified yet, I think we are well on
our way, have a good relationship with mutual confidence between us
and the industry. And I'm confident that once it is ratified we'll be
able to go ahead and smoothly implement it.
Q: Bob, can you give us the administration answer to what seems like a
compelling argument that a treaty like this can be of little value if
nations like North Korea, Libya, and Iran are not parties to it?
BELL: Well, I think the treaty has value before those states join and
will have more value when they do join. And I think you have to look
at both parts of that.
Let's just take first the situation in the immediate months after it
enters into force, while some countries may try to stay out. And just
as a parallel, I might remind you of the history with the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty, which started when it was signed -- entered
into force with about 40 states that were participating. Now the
number of states that have come on board into that treaty regime is
well over 160 or 170. And it was a treaty also when it was first
entered into force where there were questions raised about its
effectiveness and the verification and the ability to enforce it. And
over time it's been strengthened and strengthened and strengthened
again. So treaties are elastic and this treaty, like the NPT, will get
more participation and get stronger as you go through the years, not
But just take it as it starts and look at it on two grounds really:
first, military grounds; second, intelligence grounds. On the military
point, we are going to eliminate our chemical weapons, it's a matter
of law. There is no question of that. This treaty provides us with the
means to try to get as many other countries in the world to eliminate
their stockpiles as possible with the goal of getting all stockpiles
eliminated. It's in our interest, then, to use the treaty to try to
expand that universe of states who are required under this regime to
eliminate their weapons.
Second, with respect to the intelligence equities. Our intelligence
community has got to give priority to monitoring the chemical weapons
programs of rogue states like Iraq and Libya that will initially try
to stay outside this regime. They're going to do that whether there's
a chemical weapons treaty or not. The chemical weapons treaty will
help them do what they're going to have to do anyway. If the treaty is
rejected, that doesn't mean that Libya and Iraq keep their chemical
weapons and we keep ours. If the treaty is rejected, we're going to
get rid of our chemical weapons anyway. If the treaty were rejected,
it doesn't mean the intelligence community then doesn't have to worry
about the chemical weapons programs and rogue states. It just makes it
harder -- it would make it harder for the intelligence committee to do
that which they've already got to do as a matter of priority.
Q: Well, you said that the people in chemical companies in here would
suffer if we didn't go into this. Likewise, will the chemical
industries in Iraq and Libya, will they suffer if they don't go into
it? Will that be a means of maybe getting them into line?
BELL: Absolutely. And that's an important point, Sarah, because, as I
said, the U.S. took the lead in negotiating this treaty under
Secretary Baker and Brent Scowcroft. It was at our insistence that
this treaty was designed to put pressure, to put states who tried to
stay outside the regime under duress, to paint their industries, their
chemical industries as pariah industries. That's why the treaty has
automatic trade restrictions that kick in that paint these -- the
chemical industries and countries that don't join as pariahs and makes
it harder for those companies to do business with the rest of the
The irony here, the terrible irony is that if we're not in at one
minute past midnight on the morning of April 29th, those same trade
restrictions that we designed to put duress on the chemical industries
of Iraq and Libya are going to come around in a boomerang fashion and
kick in on us.
Q: Mr. Bell, some people in the administration have been saying that
if we don't join by April 29th or ratify by the end of this month, we
can't participate in a verification procedures; other people I've
seen, writing in different places, saying that's simply not true. Is
there some ambiguity on that point or can you explain to us -
BELL: There's no ambiguity. And it's not an issue that some people in
the administration are saying that -- everyone in the administration
is saying it, from the President on down: It is the fact that if we
are not an original party to this treaty at one minute past midnight
after the April 28th -- in other words, one minute in the morning on
April 29th -- we start paying an immediate price right then and there.
Let me just run through what happens. The trade restrictions kick in
at one minute after midnight on our own chemical industry, as Bill
Reinsch has outlined. Second, there is a provision in the treaty that
says, if you are not an original signatory and then you later come in
the next day, the next day, or the next week, you can't be admitted to
the treaty for a minimum of 30 days. Now, there is going to be an
organizing conference of all the original signatories that meets in
the Hague on May 6th. At that organizing conference, they are going to
divide up the jobs and the responsibilities under this treaty, assign
seats to nations. After all, there are 70 states that have ratified.
There are 160 or 170 that have signed. They can't all be on this
executive council. Right now, they are holding a seat for us, but this
train is going to leave the station without us at one minute past
midnight if we are not on it. And beyond that point, we are going to
be like Blanche DuBois; we are going to be depending on the kindness
So once the initial assignments are made, all the positions are going
to be filled and we would then have to wait through some process of
attrition or turnover for some opening to come up later. It also would
mean that we wouldn't have American nationals in the key
administrative positions in the organization that would administer it,
and it would prohibit us from having American nationals on the
international inspection teams that will go into enforced compliance
for the treaty. And that all kicks in at one minute past midnight.
Q: Would that bar to Americans participating be permanent or would it
go away if and when we were to ratify?
BELL: Well, it wouldn't be permanent but then you have to ask
yourself, if this is the consequence of what happens at one minute
past midnight, what are we going to know in terms of making this
decision the first week in May, the first week in July, the first week
in September 1997, that we don't know now, the first week of April?
The treaty has been before the Senate since November 1993. There have
been more than a dozen hearings. We have been engaged in briefings,
answering questions for the record, hearings for three and a half
years. The treaty was negotiated under two Republican administrations
all through that period.
The Senate Arms Control Observer Group, which was set up expressly to
make sure that the Senate knew about a treaty before the signature
went on the signed column, went to Geneva to check on it. In other
words, the body of information before the Senate through those three
and a half years, especially including the last ten weeks of intensive
negotiation, as the President referenced, are going the extra mile to
address concerns that had been raised last summer and last fall within
the Republican caucus.
There gets a point in the Senate, and those of you who cover the
Senate know, where Senators start saying, "Vote. It's time to vote.
It's time to make a subjective call on this."
Q: Jesse Helms is railing again today about this treaty. He says that
his discussions with Madeleine Albright last week have been
exaggerated; that he did not agree to anything and he won't
capitulate. How do you, one, explain his opposition? And, two, given
his position as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
can that opposition be overcome?
BELL: Well, I can't and wouldn't presume to speak for Senator Helms in
terms of his motivation. I can only talk to the process. At the end of
January, the President had several conversations with the Majority
Leader and then Sandy Berger went up and met with the Majority Leader
and other senior Republican Senators in the Republican caucus. And out
of that, they agreed on a process that we would follow over the course
of -- as we did the last two months.
And that process was to take the list of concerns that had been raised
by some within the Republican caucus, including, quite notably,
Senator Helms -- and there were about 30 specific complaints -- and in
each case, try to identify some type of assurance or remedy or
condition that we could subscribe to that would address the concern,
and take each of those that was agreed and put it in one column, which
we call Column A for want of a better label. And then there would be
some issues where, obviously, we would not reach agreement with
Senator Helms. He would want verification standards higher than we
would think we could certify. He would want us, for example, not to
enter into the treaty unless all the other countries of the world who
could have chemical weapons had previously entered into the treaty. So
we agreed in this process that Sandy Berger and Trent Lott worked out
that we would go through this kind of triage process through intensive
negotiations and come up with a list of conditions that were agreed,
and then for the issues where there was no agreement we would have a
position that Senator Helms would subscribe to, and then one that
Democrats, other Republicans supporting the treaty, and the White
House would subscribe to. And then as the Constitution envisions, the
Senate would work its will on the points in dispute. And that is what
we have done.
So the question that only Senator Helms can answer is whether he is
now saying, and I hope he's not, that unless certain conditions that
are still in disagreement are agreed, he would not allow the treaty to
come before the Senate. Our view is that we have got to the point now
where the Senate ought to be allowed to exercise its will on the
issues that are still in dispute.
Q: Well, that is just what Helms is saying. In his statement today, he
says the administration has once again begun stonewalling on the
issues in dispute between the administration and some Republicans in
BELL: Well, "stonewalling" is a subjective term. I speak from personal
experience. Since the end of January, we have had eight different
sessions, four at the member level, four at the expanded senior staff
level, which were intense negotiating sessions on the text of these 30
possible conditions. There were over 30 hours of negotiations on the
text relating to those 30 conditions that we carried out.
At the end of those 30 hours we handed the product of that negotiation
over to the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, gave
them to Senator Biden and the Chairman, and they have worked on it for
a number of other hours that Senator Helms referenced on the floor two
weeks ago, that he had had a four and a half hour meeting with Senator
Biden to see if they could push it further. And they were able to push
it further. They were able to put a couple of more conditions in the
agreed column, compared to where we had left it.
But you can only go so far if you believe, as we do quite strongly,
that the April 29th deadline is a real deadline. And at some point you
have to say, we've gone as far as we can and it's time to vote. Now, I
expect that Senator Biden, as soon as the Senate comes back from the
Easter recess, will be in touch with Senator Helms. I'm sure they will
take another look at this to see if there's any other flexibility
available anywhere. I'm sure Senator Biden will be in touch with us to
let us know his report based on that.
So there's no stonewalling going on here. We've been engaged in a good
faith, intensive effort for over two months, as the President said, to
go the extra mile in addressing these concerns. But remember, when
this all sort of broke apart last September, it was said then that
there were three -- maybe three issues if we could get some meeting of
the minds on then we could call the treaty back up. We've now agreed
to something like 20 conditions. So we're way past the point that had
been identified last September in terms of what the prerequisites were
to allow the Senate -- the full Senate, all 100 members -- to exercise
their will on this treaty.
Q: What does it say about this treaty that so many important and
impressive individuals from the foreign policy and defense community
can differ so vehemently about it. For every official that you can put
up from the defense community who says it's a good idea, it seems the
opposition has one to match.
BELL: Well, I think there's a clear line of philosophy that
distinguishes the two groups and certainly there are people in your
first group who are opposed to the treaty, who held senior positions
in the Reagan administration. And that distinction is between those
who believe that we should be engaged in the world and we should have
at our disposal all of the multilateral arms control instruments that
are available to try to advance our national security interests, on
the one hand; and those who see the multilateral arms control
instruments as themselves being unacceptable.
And you also have the distinction, it seems to me, between the people
that started this treaty negotiation, as is often the case, were able
to sort of lay out maximum positions in a negotiation; and those that
completed the negotiation under the Bush administration who had to
make the tough calls, as I said at the front end of this, that Brent
Scowcroft and James Baker had to make to get the treaty finished.
Q: On the human side, has anybody made any study of how many veterans
or how many people were harmed by chemical warfare in the past wars
and how many would be in the next war -- could we not reasonably be
considered losing a war if the other side had them against us?
BELL: Well, our goal is to make sure that American forces never have
to do battle ever again against an adversary that's equipped for
chemical warfare. Part of that is the chemical weapons treaty. But the
chemical weapons treaty, as the President said, is not a panacea. You
cannot let down your guard. We'll still need the most robust and
vigorous defensive preparations against possible use of CW against our
troops. And that's one of the points were prepared to confirm and
certify to the Senate on.
And then beyond that, you need a deterrence policy. You need to make
clear, as the Bush administration did in the Gulf War, that a state
that is foolish enough to use chemical weapons against our forces, if
they succeed in remaining outside this treaty regime, is going to pay
a truly devastating price.
Q: How big an exporter of chemicals is Russia? And do they export
enough chemicals that there would be a big economic price that their
industry would pay that might get the Duma off the dime?
BELL: I'm going to have to refer, I guess to the record, your question
on the Russian chemical industry, unless Bill knows off the top of his
head. That's not an area that I specialize in.
I can, though, I think comment on what seems to be happening in Moscow
with respect to this treaty. As some of you know, President Yeltsin
submitted the CWC to the Duma two days before the Helsinki summit. And
at the Helsinki summit the Russian government itself was particularly
interested in getting the joint statement we succeeded in getting at
the summit, in which we both pledged to seek prompt ratification by
our parliaments, or the Senate in our case, of the treaty.
My sense as to what's happening in Russia is that they're facing real
problems in terms of the attitudes in the Duma on the one hand and the
cost of chemical destruction on the other. They may even be hoping
that we let them off the hook. But watching our process, I think
they've concluded that the Senate is going to do the right thing and
give its advice and consent to this treaty, that the United States is
going to make that train that pulls out at one minute past midnight
and be an original party to the treaty on the executive council with
our inspectors on the team. And they're going to be left behind in the
station watching that train go down the tracks, with Russia not having
a seat at the table, Russia not having its nationals as part of this
organization. And so they've postured themselves now by getting this
submitted to the Duma to take their key from us.
And if we ratify, if the Senate acts this month as we think they
should and must, it is certainly possible that they will move quickly
then not to be left behind. There is no guarantee but there seems to
be a dynamic at work here to that effect.
Q: But you've had START II languishing in the Duma for a very long
time now and our Senate ratified START II. Isn't it a fact, a
political fact, that what Yeltsin submits these days to the Duma has
very little prospect of getting passed? In other words, you have a
totally different political make-up in the Parliament in Russia --
BELL: I think they are separate issues. Obviously, there is a special
set of challenges with respect to START II but on the CWC it is
important to remember that earlier this year the Duma, by a truly
overwhelming vote, 300 and something to 100 and something, passed
their own version of their domestic chemical destruction legislation.
Now, that bill then went on to their so-called upper house, the
Federation Council, and ran into a surprise roadblock there. But the
Duma earlier this year voted overwhelmingly to proceed with the
chemical destruction program. And the assumption of those who didn't
think they could act on CWC was that it was their objection to the
chemical demil (demilitarization) requirements that would lead them to
block the treaty. The Duma has already voted overwhelmingly to proceed
with the chem demil program.
Q: Bob, I'm a little bit confused. In Senator Helms' statement, in
addition to the criticism of the treaty, he refers to or talks about
making essential changes. Has he been asking the administration to
somehow change the convention, and can that even be done?
BELL: Well, the answer is yes and no. I don't mean yes and no to -- I
mean, the first question is answered yes, the second is no. Some of
the conditions that Senator Helms has asked us to subscribe to would
require us to go back, reconvene the conference of states that
negotiated this treaty, and change provisions before the President
would be allowed to posit the instrument of U.S. ratification and
bring the U.S. into the treaty.
Q: He wants to renegotiate?
BELL: We have been asked to agree to renegotiate two different
articles of the treaty, two key articles of the treaty, which is
unrealizable. Now, some of the other conditions that Senator Helms has
put forward that we have not been able to agree to, that are in this B
Column where there is still disagreement, and there were about 13 of
those, as opposed to the 17 that we reached agreement on out of the
total universe of 30. But some of them would sort of approve the
treaty in name only in the sense that you would -- the Senate would
agree that we could join the treaty, but the President, before we
could join it, would have to certify, for example, that all these
other countries that could have chemical weapons programs or that do
have chemical weapons programs had themselves ratified. Thus, we would
be hostage to the lowest common denominator of resistance to this
treaty instead of being the world leader. The treaty itself does not
allow amendment or reservation to the treaty. What we are negotiating
with this group of nine senators that Senator Lott established,
including Senator Helms and his staff, are conditions to the
resolution of ratification that would be binding between the Senate
and the President. That is different than amending the treaty.
Q: Bill, as long you are here, I have read where F-16 sales would go
forward in Chile. Does that mean that you have completed your
inter-agency review of Latin American arms policy? And, if so, what is
the new policy?
BELL: I don't know. I have to tell you I have been working so hard on
the CWC and the things that led to the Helsinki summit that that's not
an issue I'm working.
Q: On the CWC --
JOHNSON: Could I -- let me address that before it goes on. The review
of our arms control -- excuse me, arms export policy to Latin America
and whether or not we would allow sales of advanced fighter exports is
still under review. We have not completed that.
What we have done is, because of a deadline in the procurement process
of one country, we have allowed the contractors to go and provide
technical data in association with that in order to avoid any
disadvantage to them should the policy ultimately be changed. But
there is no determination yet on whether the sale itself will be
Q: What is the status of the deal?
JOHNSON: It's still ongoing.
Q: Could you give us an idea of how many votes the White House is shy
BELL: Well, I don't think we really know yet because most members have
been gone over the Easter recess. They're aware that these two
different processes are going forward. One is the group of nine
Senators under Senator Lott's auspices, and the other is the
discussion that Senator Biden has been having with Senator Helms. I
think all members are probably hoping that they'll come back from the
Easter recess and be informed that there's been a meeting of the minds
and that we're essentially in agreement. And I think there's quite a
number of Senators who won't make up their mind until they come back
and get this report and see where the negotiations have come out.
It's important to distinguish, though, between two kinds of votes. One
is votes on individual issues in dispute, which on the Senate floor
would be a majority vote to pass,; and then, final passage of the
treaty itself, with whatever conditions are finally adopted by the
Senate, that would require two-thirds vote.
Q: Mr. Bell, on the trade restrictions -
BELL: Let me get Bill up for the trade restrictions.
Q: I'm interested in what kinds of restrictions are there? Do they
affect the entire U.S. chemical industry, goods such as polyvinyl
chloride and so forth? What's the philosophy behind those trade
restrictions and how big are they? What's the dollar figure?
REINSCH: Well, restrictions themselves relate to the various
categories of chemicals as they're identified within the convention.
There are schedule I, schedule II, schedule III, and discrete organic
The trade restrictions -- the restriction, if you will, is essentially
a requirement. The trade in the restricted chemicals -- and I'll
describe which ones are restricted in a minute -- can occur only
between states parties, that is, parties to the convention. In other
words, once the convention is in effect, specifically for schedule I
chemicals, which are the most serious chemical weapons chemicals, you
could only export -- if you were a member of the convention, you could
only sell to other members of the convention and you could only buy
from other members of the convention. So trade with non-members of the
convention in schedule I chemicals would be cut off.
Trade in schedule II chemicals, which are, if you will, a level
slightly less dangerous than schedule I chemicals, would be similarly
restricted after three years and, in the interim, would be limited
amongst non-states parties if an appropriate end user certificate was
provided, that is, if the end user were willing to say that we are not
going to use the chemical that we are buying from you for a chemical
Now, you have to keep in mind, this is by far -- and I don't have a
number for you right now -- but this is by far the smaller part of the
total amount of chemical trade in the world. I think what concerns us
and concerns the industry though is the sort of spillover implications
for the credibility of American suppliers. In many respects, these are
commodity businesses in chemicals. And companies -- customers that are
buying chemicals will deal with a chemical supplier for a whole range
of products, and they will expect that supplier to be able to supply a
whole range of products. And if the American industry ends up in a
situation in which they can supply 15 of the 18 products that their
customer is looking for, that's not going to be satisfactory to the
customer. And the customer over the long term is going to look
elsewhere not just for the three that he can't buy because we'd be a
non-states party and the customer would be a states party to the
convention. He'll look elsewhere for all of them. So I think the
implications go beyond the actual limitations on the -- within the
BELL: And that's why the Chemical Manufacturers Association has said
repeatedly that it believes that there is prospectively $600 million a
year in trade that would be put at risk if we're not part of this
treaty at one minute past midnight on the 29th of this month.
Q: That figure is -- represents the total trade at the moment or that
portion of the trade that would be affected?
REINSCH: It -- I believe -- I don't have '96 numbers -- I believe the
total trade of the U.S. chemical industry is about $60 billion. Their
estimate of what would be affected by the treaty is about $600 million
per year in trade, which is a substantial amount.
Q: Is there a loss from countries that would remain outside,
equivalently? I mean -
REINSCH: Well, that figure is based on the assumption that we would
remain outside. That would be our loss if we did not belong.
Q: But reversing it, the other way around, is there a loss by getting
REINSCH: Oh, in terms of trade that we could not then conduct with
other countries? Well, of course, that would depend on who gets in and
who doesn't since most everybody, particularly all the big countries,
are going to be getting in, clearly -- in fact, in the G-7 have
already ratified. I think the loss of staying out would be de minimis.
Keep in mind, we also control exports of dangerous chemicals anyway --
have done so for a long time. So there's a number of countries like
Iran, Iraq, Libya, some of the ones that may not be getting in with
which -- for which American trade is already prohibited. So this won't
make anything worse in that respect.
Q: Is this WTO (World Trade Organization)-friendly, compatible, legal?
REINSCH: Well, that's a good question. I think so. But you'd have to
ask -- you'd have to ask WTO experts what they would say about that. I
can't imagine, since the countries that have ratified and will
participate are going to be essentially the same group of countries
that belong to the WTO, and since they are taking on these obligations
voluntarily, I can't imagine circumstances in which anyone would
launch a complaint in the WTO with respect to trade sanctions that
they have voluntarily undertaken in another group.
JOHNSON: And it would certainly be subject to a national security
exception in the WTO. Thank you.
THE PRESS: Thank you.