THE WHITE HOUSE The Briefing Room


The President's major event of the day tomorrow is earlier in the
morning. We are really going to demonstrate the wide-ranging and
bipartisan support that exists for the Chemical Weapons Convention and
has existed through a number of administrations, showcasing some
former administration officials who had a role in both negotiating and
promulgating the Chemical Weapons Convention who now strongly support
its ratification by the Senate.

And the President in very strong terms will call upon the Senate to
ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention by the end of April, when the
deadline for original adherence to the Convention expires and the
United States' role in the enforcement and implementation of the
treaty will be severely restricted if we don't get ratification by
April 29th.

The President, among other points, will make the case that this treaty
has been now before the Senate since November of 1993. There have been
13 Senate hearings, hundreds of questions answered on behalf of this
administration and previous administrations, and more than 1500 pages
of information about the impact of the treaty. And it's time now to
get on with ratifying a convention that will reduce the threat to our
soldiers by requiring others to do what we are already doing, which is
going out of the chemical weapons business. And it will also make it
harder and more costly for terrorists to acquire these types of

Q:  Does he feel -- 

Q:  What time and where?

Q: -- he pretty much has a deal and it's going to go through when
Helms's problems have been addressed?

MCCURRY: Well, there is going to be a lot of hard work over the course
of the coming month to secure the votes necessary for ratification,
but the President is determined to do that, will work personally on
it, and has already had substantial portions of the administration
engaged towards that end.

Q: Is he enlisting any of the former Presidents to personally call
members of the Senate?

MCCURRY: Some of them, if my understanding is correct, have been
supportive, and of course they signed a letter to that effect that has
circulated within the Senate. But we will remain in contact with
officials of the previous administrations, including President Bush
and representatives of the Reagan administration, to see if we can't
secure help.

Q: Where is he going to be and who is going to be there and what time
is it?

MCCURRY: It's going to be at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow on the South Portico,
a list of participants to be announced.

Q: What would be the immediate consequences of a failure to ratify by
the end of April?

MCCURRY: One of the immediate consequences is -- you know the
technical name of it, David, but the consultative mechanism that
actually implements the convention.

DAVID JOHNSON:  We would not be a member.

MCCURRY: It's whatever -- what's the name of it? That's what I'm
grasping for. In any event, if the Senate doesn't ratify by April 29,
the United States would not be an original member in the consultative
committee that actually implements and monitors the treaty as it takes
effect -- or the convention itself as it takes effect. And that would
put us at a real loss of a leadership role as we assure that other
countries fully comply with the stipulations of the convention itself,
as we figure out ways to monitor and verify implementation of the
convention. I think that would be very disadvantageous to the United
States as we protect our own strategic national interests in the

Q:  Any other consequences besides that?

MCCURRY: I think also, the effect of having our country, which is
already in the process of eliminating chemical weapons, not in the
leadership role in encouraging other nations that might be exploring
these types of weapons programs to do so and to shut their own down
would be a real tragedy. And the principal loss would be the loss of
the power of the U.S. example as we help encourage other countries to
refrain from any research and development programs of this nature or
any potential plans for use.

Q: It would not bear upon American intentions to continue to go out of
the chemical weapons business?

MCCURRY: No, we are already doing that. It just means that we would
lose a real advantage we have, given that we are already doing that, a
real advantage we would have in exerting our leadership in the world.

Q: Aside from exerting leadership, is there something else that you
would lose by not being part of the original body?

MCCURRY: Many people in our own domestic chemical industry feel like
they would lose some of the ability they have to monitor types of
chemical development and chemical R&D that would be occurring, because
that's the information that flows into the international body that
would promulgate and implement the treaty. We'll do more, by the way,
on all of this tomorrow, so -

Q:  I thought they would also lose some marketing -

MCCURRY: I think there are some market implications, too, but listen
-- a lot of interest in this. We obviously will trot out some people
to do some more significant briefings tomorrow. I think Bob Bell was
going to be available tomorrow, so we'll load you up more fully on
this tomorrow.

Q: Is the Secretary of State working on her newfound friend, Senator
Helms, on this subject?

MCCURRY: She's had discussions with him. A number of people from the
White House have been in discussion with the Majority Leader as well.
We have been working this quietly and sometimes publicly for a number
of weeks now, but the President tomorrow will really launch a push to
devote considerable effort during the month of April to ratification.