CWC Fact #3: Rogue states will suffer

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.

The Facts:
  • 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 chemical markets.
  • Right now, without the CWC, about 20 countries are suspected of pursuing chemical weapons. With
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.
  • 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 particular matter.”

The Deterrence Fiction: By ratifying the CWC, the United States will surrender a vital deterrent to chemical attack.

The Facts:
  • 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.
Tomorrow: The Proliferation Fiction.
Produced by the White House Working Group on the Chemical Weapons Convention.
For more information on the Chemical Weapons Convention: Phone: 202-647-8677 Fax: 202-647-6928