(White House says U.S. ratification a "top priority")

(The following fact sheet, entitled "The Chemical Weapons Convention,"
was issued by the White House on April 4.)

The Chemical Weapons Convention is a global treaty that bans an entire
class of weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons. The CWC will
ban the production, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer and use of
chemical weapons. It will enter into force April 29, with or without
U.S. participation. The CWC has long enjoyed strong bipartisan
support, including from President Bush, General Brent Scowcroft,
General Colin Powell and Senator Richard Lugar (R-In).

Chemical weapons pose a threat not just to our military but to
innocent civilians, as last year's poison gas attack in the Japanese
subway showed. Certain aspects of the Chemical Weapons Convention,
including its law enforcement requirements and nonproliferation
provisions, will strengthen existing efforts to fight chemical
terrorism. The President has assigned top priority to ratification of
the CWC by the U.S. Senate. The CWC is a central element of U.S. arms
control and nonproliferation policy that will strengthen U.S. national
security and contribute to global stability.

President Clinton said at the United Nations this fall, "I deeply
regret that the United States has not yet voted on the Convention, but
I want to assure you and people throughout the world that I will not
let this treaty die and we will join the ranks of nations determined
to prevent the spread of chemical weapons."

Under the CWC, each State Party undertakes never, under any
circumstances, to:

-- develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical
weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to

-- use chemical weapons;

-- engage in any military preparation to use chemical weapons; and

-- assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any
activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.

In addition each State Party undertakes, all in accordance with the
provisions of the Convention, to:

-- destroy the chemical weapons it owns or possesses or that are
located in any place under its jurisdiction or control;

-- destroy all chemical weapons it abandoned on the territory of
another State Party; and

-- destroy any chemical weapons production facilities it owns or
possesses or that are located in any place under its jurisdiction or

Today, we suspect some 20 countries have or may be developing chemical
weapons. These weapons are attractive to countries or individuals
seeking a mass-destruction capability because they are relatively
cheap to produce and do not demand the elaborate technical
infrastructure needed to make nuclear weapons. It is therefore all the
more vital to establish an international bulwark against the
acquisition and use of these weapons.

The CWC is the most ambitious treaty in the history of arms control.
Whereas most arms control treaties in the past have only limited
weapons, the CWC requires their outright elimination. Parties to the
Convention must destroy any and all chemical weapons and chemical
weapons production facilities.

The CWC will penalize countries that do not join. Entry into force of
the CWC will isolate the small number of non-participating states as
international pariahs and inhibit their access to certain
treaty-controlled chemicals. Since many of these chemicals are not
only required to make chemical weapons but have important uses in
commercial industry, the hold-outs will have economic as well as
political incentives to join the treaty regime.

The Chemical Weapons Convention and Industry

America's single largest exporting sector is chemical manufacturing,
representing $60 billion in exports. If the United States does not
join, its closest allies and trading partners will be forced to apply
trade restrictions to chemicals that originate in the United States,
or are being shipped here. U.S. companies could lose hundreds of
millions of dollars in sales and many U.S. jobs simply because the
United States does not belong to the treaty.

The CWC is the first arms control treaty to widely affect the private
sector. Although the United States does not manufacture chemical
weapons, it does produce, process and consume a number of chemicals
that can be used to produce chemical weapons. For example, a solvent
used in ballpoint pen ink can be easily converted into mustard gas,
and a chemical involved in production of fire retardants and
pesticides can be used to make nerve agents. Thus, any treaty to ban
chemical weapons must monitor commercial facilities that produce,
process or consume dual-use chemicals to ensure they are not diverted
for prohibited purposes.

The CWC provisions covering chemical facilities were developed with
the active participation of industry representatives. The verification
regime is intrusive enough to build confidence that member states are
complying with the treaty, yet it respects industry's legitimate
interests in safeguarding proprietary information and avoiding
disruption of production.

In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Fred
Webber, President and CEO of the Chemical Manufacturers Association,
said, "We have studied this treaty in great detail; we have put it to
the test. We think the CWC is a good deal for American industry....
The Chemical Weapons Convention protects vital commercial interests. I
know because we helped design the reporting forms. And I know because
we helped develop inspection procedures that protect trade secrets
while providing full assurance that chemical weapons are not being
produced... The Chemical Weapons Convention makes good business sense
and good public policy... Our simple. Pass the Chemical
Weapons Convention."

The CWC and the Military

The CWC specifically allows Parties to maintain chemical weapons
defensive programs and does not constrain non-CW military responses to
a chemical weapons attack. General John Shalikashvili, Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said in Senate testimony, "Desert Storm
proved that retaliation in kind is not required to deter the use of
chemical weapons." He explained, "the U.S. military's ability to deter
chemical weapons in a post-CW world will be predicated upon both a
robust chemical weapons defense capability, and the ability to rapidly
bring to bear superior and overwhelming military force in retaliation
against a chemical attack." As Defense Secretary Cheney said during
the Gulf War, and as Secretary Perry has reiterated, the U.S. response
to a chemical weapons attack would be "absolutely overwhelming" and

In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March,
Lt. General Wesley Clark, on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
said, "From a military perspective, the Chemical Weapons Convention is
clearly in our national interest... The nonproliferation aspects of
the Convention will retard the spread of chemical weapons, and in so
doing, reduce the probability that U.S. forces may encounter chemical
weapons in a regional conflict. Finally, while foregoing the ability
to retaliate in kind, the U.S. military retains the wherewithal to
deter and defend against a chemical weapons attack.... I strongly
support this Convention and respectfully request your consent to

The Need for U.S. Ratification

With or without the CWC, the United States is already destroying its
chemical weapons in accordance with a law Congress passed more than a
decade ago requiring destruction of the bulk of the U.S. chemical
weapons stockpile. That process is under way, with completion slated
by the end of 2004. The CWC would require all other parties that
possess chemical weapons to destroy their stockpiles by April 2007.

Senate failure to act before entry into force next spring will
adversely affect both U.S. national security and economic interests.
The United States would not be a member of the Executive Council that
will oversee implementation of the CWC nor would U.S. citizens be
eligible to serve as international inspectors or in other key
positions relating to verification of the treaty. On the economic
front, the U.S. chemical industry, with over $60 billion in exports,
would be subject to the potential loss of hundreds of millions of
dollars in sales and many jobs.

The CWC will put into place a legally binding international standard
outlawing the acquisition and possession, as well as use, of chemical
weapons. The Convention not only requires states parties to destroy
their chemical weapons arsenals but prohibits them from transferring
chemical weapons to other countries or assisting anyone in prohibited
activities. Combined with restrictions on chemical trade in
CWC-controlled chemicals with non-parties, these provisions will
increase the costs and difficulties of acquiring chemical weapons for
states that choose not to participate.

Universal adherence and complete abolition of chemical weapons won't
be achieved immediately. But the Convention will slow and even reverse
chemical weapons proliferation by isolating the small number of rogue
state that refuse to join the regime, limiting their access to
precursor chemicals, and bringing international political and economic
pressures to bear if such states continue their chemical weapons