This is the third in a series of News Alerts that look at the
facts, not the fictions, about the Chemical Weapons Convention. Over the
past three and a half years, the Senate has held 16 hearings on the treaty.
The Administration has conducted dozens of briefings for Senators and their
staff, and provided the Senate more than 1,500 pages of information for the
record on the CWC.
The Rogue States Fiction: We shouldn’t join because outlaw states like
Libya and Iraq are unlikely to join. The treaty will tie our hands but not theirs.
- This is like saying we should not pass laws against drug smuggling because we cannot
assume full compliance by drug traffickers. We cannot allow the rules of the international
system to be set by the enemies of the international system. The CWC will shrink the
chemical weapons problem down to a few rogue states and help curb their ability to obtain
the materials to make poison gas.
- Under a law signed by President Reagan, the United States is destroying the bulk of our
chemical weapons. Our military has decided we are better off without them. So, whether
or not we ratify the CWC, we are getting out of the chemical weapons business. By ratifying,
we can set an example for others and pressure them to follow our lead.
- Non-Party states will be affected. Over time, they will be shut out of the market for
many “dual use” chemicals that can be used to make both chemical agents and commercial
products like ink. Such states will find it much more difficult to produce or acquire
chemical weapons. By imposing permanent trade restrictions against non-members, the CWC
will generate permanent pressure on them to sign up -- or be excluded from the world’s
- Right now, without the CWC, about 20 countries are suspected of pursuing chemical
the treaty, they will fall into one of two camps: 1) those that suffer trade restrictions and
a clear-cut stigma as pariah states; 2) those that have agreed to allow short-notice
inspections of any suspicious site. This is clearly better than the status quo.|
The Deterrence Fiction: By ratifying the CWC, the United States will surrender a vital
deterrent to chemical attack.
- As General Schwarzkopf has said, “We don’t need chemical weapons to fight our future
warfares. And frankly, by not ratifying that treaty, we align ourselves with nations like
Libya and North Korea, and I’d just as soon not be associated with those thugs in that
Tomorrow: The Proliferation
- This treaty is really about other countries’ weapons, not our own. Well before the
Bush Administration signed the CWC, President Reagan signed the law requiring the United
States to destroy the bulk of our chemical weapons arsenal. The CWC will help ensure
that other countries follow our lead.
- As the Bush and Clinton administrations have understood, we don’t need chemical weapons
to deter chemical weapons. We have the world’s most powerful military. Saddam Hussein
refrained from using his chemical stockpile during the Persian Gulf War not because he
feared retaliation in kind, but because he feared retaliation of comparable or greater
magnitude. As JCS Chairman General Shalikashvili has said, “Desert Storm proved that
retaliation in kind is not required to deter the use of chemical weapons.... From a
military perspective, the Chemical Weapons Convention is clearly in our national interest.”
- The CWC allows parties to maintain robust chemical weapons defense programs to help
further deter the acquisition or use of chemical weapons.