THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION: CONSEQUENCES OF FAILURE

The CWC will enter into force April 29, 1997, with or without U.S. participation. Without positive Senate action on the treaty before that date, there will be significant political, economic, and diplomatic costs.

Americans will be less secure. The United States must monitor and seek to control the spread of chemical weapons worldwide, with or without the CWC. If the Congress fails to act and bring the CWC and its domestic legislation into force, we will deny ourselves important tools to track and control the spread of these weapons globally, and to punish violators. By going it alone, we will deny ourselves access to additional information about rogue states and terrorist groups. We will sharply limit our ability to apply political, diplomatic, and economic pressure, as well as other penalties against violators of the Convention's ban on poison gas. By rejecting this international effort to ban chemical weapons, American troops and citizens alike will be less secure and more vulnerable to two of the most serious emerging threats in the post-cold-war era, the spread of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. As former Secretary of Defense William Perry and Attorney General Janet Reno have stated, "To increase the battle safety of our troops and to fight terror here and around the globe, the Senate should ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention now."

American business will suffer. The nation's largest exporter -- the chemical industry -- has said as much as $600 million a year in U.S. sales will be placed at risk if the United States does not ratify the Convention. American businesses will face trade restrictions by nations who are party to the treaty. Some treaty members have a history of denying the United States access to their home markets, and could use the Convention as an excuse to immediately suspend trade with the United States in treaty-controlled chemicals. As Fred Webber, President and CEO of the Chemical Manufacturers Association has said, "Sanctions were placed in the treaty, at the urging of the United States, to force rogue nations to the table. The treaty is designed to make any nation pay a high price for flouting the will of the international community. Ironically the US may be the first to feel the sting and stigma of defying the Convention."

American global leadership will be damaged. Other countries, who look to the United States for leadership, would have to look elsewhere. Our ability to lead not only in this effort, but on a broad range of proliferation and terrorism challenges will be sharply undermined. If we reject a treaty which wouldn't have been concluded without our determined effort, we will also find ourselves subject to the same trade sanctions and restrictions as rogue states such as Libya. As former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger has said, "If we do not lead in this effort to curb the proliferation of chemical weapons and initiate their global elimination, we increase the chances that we will encounter disasters in the 21st century reminiscent of those that occurred in the first 50 years of the 20th century."

America will lose its seat at the table implementing the CWC. The United States will not be part of the governing body which oversees implementation, nor will U.S. citizens serve as international inspectors or in other key positions. Americans, with the most comprehensive experience in implementing and verifying international arms control agreements and with a large chemical industry, would not have an input on implementing the treaty's reporting and inspection protocols. The United States has the most experience in eliminating chemical weapons stockpiles, having made the decision in 1985 to begin destroying our chemical weapons. But there would be no American inspectors on the teams that make sure other countries are doing what we as a nation have already decided to do.