Six Republican senators have introduced "The Chemical and Biological Weapons Threat Reduction Act," which, they say "sets out clear, stiff, and enforceable domestic penalties for prohibited chemical and biological weapons activities," and requires the President to impose sanctions against countries that use such weapons.

The co-sponsors include Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Don Nickles.

Following is the text of the statement on the bill released by the senators late March 31:

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Statement by Sponsors of S-495
"The Chemical and Biological Weapons Threat Reduction Act"

Senator Don Nickles, Assistant Majority Leader
Senator Paul Coverdell, Republican Conference Secretary
Senator Jesse Helms, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Richard Shelby, Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence
Senator Jon Kyl
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

Chemical and biological weapons are abhorrent and among the most odious means of war-making known to the world. That is why the United States long ago dismantled its biological weapons program and is now unilaterally destroying its entire stockpile of poison gas. The wisdom of this course is unquestionable, as is our commitment to enforcing international norms against chemical and biological weapons.

This is also why, understandably, the United States wishes the world to follow its example of pledging not to use, and to destroy, these weapons. Unfortunately, some countries are unwilling to join the community of nations committed to such a course, and others are suspected of paying only lip service to such pledges while secretly continuing their chemical and biological weapons programs. Additionally, existing international agreements on these matters are not being enforced. When the world witnessed the horrors of Iraqi use of poison gas against its own nationals, the community of nations failed to take decisive, collective action to punish this act despite clear and compelling evidence of the atrocity.

We support doing all we can to provide our domestic law enforcement authorities with the comprehensive legal basis and enforcement tools needed to prosecute the acquisition, possession, transfer and use of chemical weapons in the United States.

Senate Republicans have introduced legislation that reinforces U.S. international leadership on chemical and biological weapons and lays out practical steps to reduce the threat posed by chemical and biological weapons to the United States, and its friends and allies,

To fill the void in domestic law, the "Chemical and Biological Weapons Threat Reduction Act" sets out clear, stiff, and enforceable domestic penalties for prohibited chemical and biological weapons activities. The Act provides for enforcement of existing international law by requiring the President to sanction countries that use such weapons, and facilitates the improvement of multilateral enforcement mechanisms.

It should also be noted that this legislation takes practical steps toward achieving the goal of ending the chemical weapons threat, irrespective of whether or not a resolution of ratification for the Chemical Weapons Convention might be crafted to make that treaty more effective.

The Chemical and Biological Weapons Threat Reduction Act provides concrete and achievable measures to reduce the threat of these horrific weapons of mass destruction, and provides the most adequate protection yet for America and its armed forces around the world. It provides law where none exists, and fills the gaps of the incomplete Chemical Weapons Convention. We are proud to introduce this legislation and expect to work toward its speedy enactment. This bill is the best thing we can do to protect our country and the world from the horrors of chemical and biological weapons.

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