A new test of leadership on the treaty

President calls for action on treaty
that has been 'bipartisan from the beginning'

President Clinton highlighted in his State of the Union address the need for swift action on the Chemical Weapons Convention, which will outlaw the production, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons.

The President’s remarks are excerpted:
“Now we must rise to a new test of leadership -- ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention. Make no mistake about it, it will make our troops safer from chemical attack. It will help us to fight terrorism. We have no more important obligations, especially in the wake of what we now know about the Gulf War.
“This treaty has been bipartisan from the beginning, supported by Republican and Democratic administrations, and Republican and Democratic members of Congress, and already approved by 68 nations. But if we do not act by April the 29th, when this Convention goes into force -- with or without us -- we will lose the chance to have Americans leading and enforcing this effort. Together we must make the Chemical Weapons Convention law so that at last we can begin to outlaw poisoned gas from the Earth.”

The President’s strong remarks in support of the treaty earned a standing ovation. Members of the President’s new national security and foreign policy team were in the audience, including Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Secretary of Defense William Cohen. Both have championed the Convention in their first weeks on the job.

Secretary Cohen, in his first appearance before the Pentagon press corps, said of the treaty, “I’m going to continue to work with the Senate on ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention. During the Reagan administration, the United States decided to eliminate its stockpile of chemical weapons, and ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention is going to give us a leadership role in determining how that Convention is going to be implemented and enforced.”

Secretary Albright spoke out forcefully in her confirmation hearing, saying, “The CWC ... is supported by many in both parties, by the business community and by our military. ... It is absolutely essential that the U.S. be an original party to the CWC. Our military does not wish to use chemical weapons and the CWC is the single best way to ensure that others don’t have the military capability to use chemical weapons. This is totally in U.S. interests.”

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