CWC FACTS AND FICTION

The Chemical Weapons Convention has been before the Senate since November 1993, when it was submitted by President Clinton. Over the past three and a half years, the Senate has held 13 hearings on the treaty and the Administration has conducted dozens of briefings for Senators and their staff. The Administration has provided the Senate more than 1500 pages of information on the CWC -- over 300 pages of testimony, over 500 pages of answers to letters and reports, over 400 pages of answers to questions for the record, and over 300 pages of other documentation. In April 1996, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations voted the treaty out of Committee by a strong bipartisan majority, 13-5. Despite this thorough scrutiny and debate, opponents continue to raise concerns about the treaty. For the record here are the facts, not the fiction, about the CWC:

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.

The Rogue States Fiction: Because rogue states will refuse to join the treaty, it will tie our hands but not theirs.

The Facts:
  • 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 chemical weapons.

  • 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" chemical 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 twenty countries are suspected of pursuing chemical weapons programs. 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 Verification Fiction: The treaty is unverifiable.

The Facts:
  • Opponents of the CWC would make the perfect the enemy of the good. Verification is never perfect -- but perfection is the wrong standard. We have laws on the books that prohibit tax evasion or burglary or murder not because they are guaranteed to prevent these acts, but because such laws make crimes less likely to occur. Similarly, the CWC strengthens our hand against chemical weapons cheaters -- without it we have no hand at all, for chemical weapons are perfectly legal to make and prepare for use. And significant violations will be more readily detected because of the treaty's verification regime.

  • In fact, the CWC is the most extensive arms control treaty yet. Its inspectors will have the right to conduct short notice inspections wherever they suspect prohibited activities are being carried out, coupled with access to inspection technologies that will pose important new barriers to cheating. The treaty's verification provisions cover every aspect of a chemical weapons program from development through production, stockpiling, transfer and use. The treaty also ties the United States into a global verification network and strengthens our access to information about other countries. It gives us new tools to deal with problems we must face with or without the CWC -- the threats of chemical weapons proliferation and chemical weapon terrorism.

  • The military use of chemical weapons typically requires significant testing, equipping and training of forces that will be more difficult to hide in the face of a vigorous on-site inspection regime. Such an effort would more likely be detected with the CWC's verification measures than without them.

  • The allegation that the treaty is unverifiable is ironic, given fearmongering from the same quarters about the treaty's allegedly draconian inspection and reporting requirements. How can it be both too tough and not tough enough?

The Proliferation Fiction: The treaty explicitly obligates members to facilitate the transfer of militarily relevant chemical technology to untrustworthy countries that can become parties.

The Facts:
  • It would be strange indeed if a treaty expressly devoted to eliminating chemical weapons required members to help build them. In fact, the CWC does just the opposite. To help any country build chemical weapons is absolutely prohibited. The CWC reads: "Each Party... undertakes never under any circumstances to develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to anyone. Each State Party shall adopt the necessary measures to ensure that toxic chemicals and their precursors are only developed, produced, otherwise acquired, retained, transferred or used within its territory... for purposes not prohibited under this Convention."

  • This false alarm may be based on a misreading of language in the Treaty: "... States Parties shall facilitate... and have the right to participate in... exchange of chemicals, equipment, and... information relating to... chemistry." This provision is explicitly restricted to exchanges for "purposes not prohibited under the Convention." It merely affirms the right of the parties to engage in chemical commerce for peaceful purposes (e.g. industrial, agricultural, research, pharmaceutical, medical or other pursuits) as they do today. A state with chemical weapons aspirations has no treaty right to anything that furthers those aspirations. And nothing in the treaty requires the elimination of our export controls on chemical materials and equipment.

The Vigilance Fiction: It would make us less vigilant about the need to maintain defenses against chemical threats.

The Facts:
  • Following this logic, we should give chemical weapons to our potential adversaries to be sure we are reminded to defend against them. There is nothing inevitable about arms control agreements lessening our resolve to defend against the threat in question. This is a matter of political will here at home -- it has nothing to do with the treaty, which encourages defenses against chemical weapons.

  • The Clinton Administration is committed to maintaining a robust program to equip and train our troops against chemical and biological attack. We have asked Congress to increase the Defense Department's budget for chem/bio defense by $225 million over the next six years.

The Riot Control Agent Fiction: It will prohibit our forces from using tear gas in the future.

The Facts:
  • The use of RCAs is unrestrained by the CWC for peacetime uses. Thus, RCAs may be used in normal peacekeeping operations, law enforcement operations, humanitarian and disaster relief operations, counter-terrorist and hostage rescue operations and noncombatant rescue operations outside of internal or international armed conflict.

  • RCAs may also be used in other situations, including when U.S. forces are conducting: peacetime military operations within an area of ongoing armed conflict when the U.S. is not a party to the conflict (such as Somalia, Bosnia and Rwanda); consensual peacetime operations when the receiving state has authorized the use of force (including Chapter VI operations); and, peacekeeping operations under Chapter VII authority of the Security Council.

  • In all such cases, so long as U.S. forces, or the coalition in which U.S. forces are participating, do not become engaged in a use of force of a scope, duration and intensity which would trigger the laws of war, the CWC would not restrict our RCA use options, including against combatants who are parties to the conflict.

  • The CWC does not apply to all uses of RCAs in an armed conflict. When the U.S. is a party to such a conflict, only the use of RCAs where combatants are present is restricted. The use of RCAs solely against noncombatants for law enforcement, riot control, or other non-combat purposes would not be prohibited.

  • Finally, the President has made clear that he is committed to accelerating efforts to field non-chemical, non-lethal alternatives to RCAs for use in those situations where the use of RCAs is proscribed.

The Burdens on Business Fiction: Business opposes the treaty because it will impose huge reporting and inspection burdens on 8,000 Americans companies that use chemicals regulated by the Convention.

The Facts:
  • Wrong on all counts. The chemical industry, which worked closely with the Reagan and Bush Administrations during the CWC negotiations, strongly supports ratification. The Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA), the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA), the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and other major trade organizations support the CWC and say it will not pose an undue burden on business. Small business, through the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), called treaty opponent's claims that it opposed the treaty "100% incorrect" (Wall Street Journal, 2/14/97). An NFIB official predicted its members "are not going to be impacted."

  • The facts: Under the CWC, about 140 companies will likely be subject to routine inspections and more detailed reporting requirements. Many are members of CMA, which strongly supports the CWC. The rest of the businesses covered -- approximately 1,800 companies -- are producers of large volumes of covered chemicals -- not, as misinformed critics allege, users of chemicals like soap, tire and paint makers.

  • More than 90 percent of the industry facilities covered by the treaty will be required to do little more than fill out a two-page form once a year. Moreover, we expect that challenge inspections in the U.S. will be directed largely at military facilities.

  • What the critics fail to point out is the cost to American business if we fail to ratify. The CMA has estimated that up to $600 million a year in sales by American chemical companies and many jobs will be at risk from mandatory trade restrictions designed to pressure rogue states to join.

The Trade Secrets Fiction: It could jeopardize confidential business information through frivolous "challenge inspections" with extraordinary access to files, data and equipment and inspectors themselves could be spies (e.g. Chinese inspectors.)

The Facts:
  • In fact, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, which strongly supports the CWC, helped write the rules covering confidential business information -- protecting trade secrets was its top priority during the treaty negotiations. Then, CMA "test drove" the treaty during seven full fledged trial inspections at chemical facilities to make sure protections against industrial espionage were strong. They are.

  • Further, the treaty gives our government the right to reject ahead of time for any reason any inspectors we believe may try to spy at U.S. facilities.

  • Fearmongering about the treaty's draconian inspection tools is ironic, given allegations by opponents that the treaty is unverifiable -- which is it, too tough or not tough enough?

The Constitutionality Fiction: It might involve unreasonable searches and seizures that violate the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.

The Facts:
  • At the insistence of the United States, the CWC explicitly allows members to take into account their constitutional obligations when providing access for a challenge inspection. Both the CWC and its draft implementing legislation fully protect U.S. citizens, including businesses, from unreasonable search and seizure. In addition, sensitive equipment, information or areas not related to chemical weapons can be protected during challenge inspections using managed access techniques.

  • Because the U.S. chemical industry fully supports the CWC, the Administration anticipates inspection access to be granted voluntarily in almost all cases. In the rare cases where access is denied, the implementing legislation contains procedures for requesting and issuing search warrants.

  • As Attorney General Reno wrote to Majority Leader Lott, the "constitutional concerns [of the treaty's opponents] are unfounded. The dictates of the 4th Amendment have been scrupulously honored in the drafting and will be rigidly followed in the implementation."

The Cost Fiction: American taxpayers will bear substantial annual costs of membership.

The Facts:
  • For FY98, the Administration has requested $25 million for meeting our CWC assessment and an additional $21 million for multilateral verification at U.S. chemical weapons-related facilities, should that be necessary. That amounts to about 20 cents from every American. This is a far cry from the $200 million pricetag critics cite without basis. Less than a quarter from each American is a small price to pay to improve the safety of our troops on the battlefield and our citizens at home -- and a bargain compared to the losses American business could incur if we fail to ratify.

The Deadline Fiction: The April 29 deadline is of no consequence and is of the Administration's own making.

The Facts:
  • In fact, failure to ratify by April 29 will have significant adverse consequences for America's security and American business.

  • Our ability to oversee the first critical days and months of implementation of the treaty will be lost -- Americans who now head up the divisions that monitor the treaty's budget, security measures and industry inspections will be replaced by individuals from countries that have ratified the treaty. Moreover, Americans will not be able to be hired as inspectors.

  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in sales by American chemical companies and many jobs will be at risk as a result of mandatory trade restrictions originally designed to pressure rogue states to join.

  • And failure to ratify would relegate us to the back benches with international pariahs such as Libya and North Korea, squandering our international leadership in the fight against chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

The Pull Back Fiction: Last September, the Administration pulled the CWC back from the Senate for fear it would unnecessarily burden U.S. industry.

The Facts:
  • In fact, the treaty was put on hold in the midst of the Presidential campaign because, as Republican Senator Richard Lugar explained, "The whole process was politicized in a way that would be harmful to our foreign policy. This is not a good time for the debate."

  • As detailed above, the leading trade organizations and small business all support the CWC and say it will not pose an undue burden on business.

The Russia Loophole Fiction: Treaty loopholes will allow Russia to produce new classes of nerve agents.

The Facts:
  • In fact, the CWC was explicitly written to account for technological change by making all chemical weapons illegal, whether or not they are currently listed on its Schedules of Chemicals (which, in any event, are illustrative, not exhaustive). The Treaty also explicitly provides for expanding the list as new agents are identified. And it provides new tools for monitoring emerging chemical weapons threats, such as challenge inspections.

The Linkage Fiction: The U.S. should only deposit its instrument of ratification after Russia ratifies.

The Facts:
  • This approach would give hard-liners in Russia the power to decide whether the U.S. ever becomes a Party to the treaty. By "just saying no," the Duma could ensure that neither the U.S. nor Russia ever joins, thus allowing Russia to keep its chemical weapons stockpile.

  • President Yeltsin's recent decision to submit the CWC to the Duma and to press for prompt Russian ratification is evidence that Moscow is worried about U.S. ratification. Rejecting the linkage approach will make clear to Russia that the train is leaving the station on April 29 with the U.S. on board and Russia left behind.

The Pressure on Others to Ratify Fiction: To pressure the Senate, the Administration encouraged other countries to approve the treaty and trigger entry into force.

The Facts:
  • President Bush's Secretary of State, Lawrence Eagleburger, signed the treaty in January 1993. The almost four years it took for the 65th ratification to trigger entry into force on its face undercuts any claim this inevitable moment of truth was rushed.