[EXCERPTS] 17 April 1997 DoD News Briefing
Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, USA, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Subject: Statement on the Chemical Weapons Convention
Speaker: The Chairman is with us today to say a few words about the
CWC. I also wanted to mention two other things. One, we have a
statement, a joint statement which we will be providing to you a
little later in the day regarding the CWC, which has been authorized
by former Secretaries Brown, Perry and Richardson on this same
And then at 2 o'clock this afternoon, we have Deputy Under Secretary
of Defense for Environmental Affairs Sherri Goodman coming down to
talk to you about an initiative that is connected with the
And with that, I'll turn over the proceedings to General John
Shalikashvili, the Chairman. Sir.
General Shalikashvili: I know that you have heard and read an awful
lot in the last few weeks about the Chemical Weapons Convention. And I
want to let you know where this country's military leaders, that is
the Joint Chiefs and the combatant commanders, stand on the CWC.
>From the beginning of our CWC debate in 1991, the Joint Chiefs then
and we, their successors have supported this important convention. We
have consistently done so because no matter how much we analyze the
provisions of this convention, we always came to the same conclusion,
that our troops will be safer with the convention than without it.
Simply stated, the CWC will greatly reduce the likelihood that our
troops and citizens will face chemical weapons in the future.
Furthermore, well before the CWC was negotiated, Congress had already
directed the destruction of the vast majority of our chemical weapons
stockpile. The CWC will require other state parties to do the same.
And under very strict international controls. So since we are already
destroying our own nuclear... Our own chemical weapons, it makes great
sense to level the playing field and the CWC does just that.
Important as well, we do not need chemical weapons to provide an
effective deterrent. Deterrence is based on a defensive capability and
on an ability to rapidly deliver an overwhelming and devastating
response. And we have both of those capabilities. And the CWC is not
going to lure us into complacency. We are fully committed to the
continued improvement of our chemical defensive capabilities and our
aggressive intelligence collection.
We recognize that there are rogue states that will not sign up to the
convention. But even there, the CWC will make it harder for rogue
states to acquire chemical weapons by imposing strict trade
restrictions on relevant chemicals required to make such weapons.
While this is not the full answer in dealing with rogue states, here
too, it is obvious to us that we are better off with the convention
than without it. Furthermore, this convention enjoins the world
community to forego an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. It
implements a regime of enforcement to include most rigorous
inspections and it impairs the ability of those outside the convention
to obtain materials to make chemical weapons.
In a final analysis, despite the objections sometimes raised, the CWC
makes great sense to me, to the other Joint Chiefs, and to our
combatant commanders. And we continue to urge its prompt ratification.
And with that, I'm ready to try to answer your questions.
Q: Mr. Chairman, I wonder if we might have a couple of questions on
other subjects if we might. NORAD announced yesterday that it had gone
on an increased state of alert because of a security problem. I wonder
if you might -- could you give us any details on the security problem?
And with the second anniversary of Oklahoma City coming up, do you
plan to put domestic bases on a higher state of alert on the
possibility that there might be a bombing?
A: As far as NORAD is concerned, they had indications that they might
have a security difficulty. And so they did the natural thing and that
is to increase the security posture on NORAD. Somewhat similar as we
do sometimes here in the Pentagon when we get some kind of indication
that someone is threatening the security of this building. It's no
more than that.
As far as the second part of your question is concerned, we will
remind all commanders of the upcoming anniversary and will urge them
to take the measures appropriate in their particular locations.
Q: Could you give us a little more detail -- I'm sorry. Just a follow
up, briefly. Could you give us a little more detail on the security
threat at NORAD, the nature of it? Was it a local threat or does it
seem to be part of a larger --
A: No, they simply had some information that someone was going to try
to threaten the facility and so they took the necessary precaution.
Since then, they -- that time has come and gone. What they are doing
now is simply taking this opportunity to check out their defensive
capability. And I suspect that in the not too distant future, they
will return back to normal.
Q: General Shalikashvili, today your predecessor, General Powell,
testified on the Hill. He supported the Chemical Weapons Convention.
But he also said that the revelations of the past couple of days, that
the CIA had failed to list panacea on a list of suspected Iraqi
chemical weapons sight was quote, "outrageous", and said that if he
were still in office, he would be ranting and raving about this. You
are in office. What's your reaction to the news of the last couple of
A: Well I am -- I would let General Powell make his own judgments how
he would react to it. I'm not one who rants and raves. That doesn't
mean that I'm not very much concerned with any kind of information
that indicates that we could have provided some warning and didn't.
The proper thing to do now in my judgment is to ensure that the
correct investigations are conducted into the reasons why such
information might not have been made available and ensure we fix the
system so that in the future, if in fact there was this omission,
something like that cannot happen again.
Q: Is this an intelligence failure in your opinion?
A: I have no idea. I don't know enough about it either than what the
CIA has revealed about that case, so I think it's too early to draw
Q: General, on the Chemical Weapons Convention, as I understand the
Chiefs' position is that you feel that you can deter the use of
chemical weapons based on the Gulf War without having a chemical
weapons deterrent. In your statement of the use of overwhelming and
devastating response, does that include the use of nuclear weapons or
is that strictly limited to a conventional response?
A: I don't think it would be very useful for me to be terribly
specific on that issue other than to tell you that we do not exclude
any capability that's at our disposal.