The White House

April 24, 1997

The Honorable Trent Lott
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Mr. Leader:

During Senate ratification proceedings on the Chemical Weapons
Convention (CWC), concerns have been raised over Article X, which
provides for certain types of defensive assistance in the event that a
State that has joined the treaty and renounced any chemical weapons
(CW) capability is threatened with or suffers a chemical weapons
attack, and Article XI, which encourages free trade in non-prohibited
chemicals among states that adhere to the CWC. Some have suggested
that these Articles could result in the CWC promoting, rather than
stemming, CW proliferation despite States Parties' general obligation
under Article I "never under any circumstances ... to assist,
encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity
prohibited to a State Party under this Convention."

To respond to these concerns, the Administration has worked closely
with the Senate to develop conditions relating to both Articles that
have been incorporated in the resolution of ratification (Agreed
Conditions #7 and 15). These two conditions would substantially
reinforce and strengthen the treaty by:

-- prohibiting the United States under Article X from (a) providing
the CWC organization with funds that could be used for chemical
weapons defense assistance to other State Parties; and (b) giving
certain states that might join the treaty any assistance other than
medical antidotes and treatment.

-- requiring the President to (a) certify that the CWC will not weaken
the export controls established by the Australia Group and that each
member of the Group intends to maintain such controls; (b) block any
attempt within the Group to adopt a contrary position; and (c) report
annually as to whether Australia Group controls remain effective.

With respect to the latter condition, I am pleased to inform you that
we have now received official confirmations from the highest
diplomatic levels in each of the 30 Australia Group nations that they
agree that the Group's export control and nonproliferation measures
are compatible with the CWC and that they are committed to maintain
such controls in the future.

While supporting these guarantees and safeguards, you expressed the
concern on Sunday that nations might still try to use Article X or XI
to take proscribed actions that could undercut U.S. national security
interests, notwithstanding the best efforts of U.S. diplomacy to
prevent such actions. I am, therefore, prepared to provide the
following specific assurances related to the two Articles:

In the event that a State Party or States Parties to the Convention
act contrary to the obligations under Article I by:

(A) using Article X to justify providing defensive CW equipment,
material or information to another State Party that could result in
U.S. chemical protective equipment being compromised so that U.S.
warfighting capabilities in a CW environment are significantly

(B) using Article XI to justify chemical transfers that would make it
impossible for me to make the annual certification that the Australia
Group remains a viable and effective mechanism for controlling CW
proliferation; or

(C) carrying out transfers or exchanges under either Article X or XI
which jeopardize U.S. national security interests by promoting CW

I would, consistent with Article XVI of the CWC, regard such actions
as extraordinary events that have jeopardized the supreme interests of
the United States and therefore, in consultation with the Congress, be
prepared to withdraw from the treaty.


(signed) Bill Clinton

(end text)