March 20, 1997

Environmental organizations representing over one million members urged the Senate to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) today, the second anniversary of the 1995 Tokyo subway nerve gas attack. In a letter sent today to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, the groups urged fast action on the treaty which will enter into force on April 29th, 1997 regardless of whether the U.S. ratifies it by that date.

The groups cited the public health and environmental risk posed by chemical weapons as a major incentive for U.S. support of the treaty. "The sooner the Senate acts to abolish these dangerous arsenals the better off all Americans will be," said Paul Walker, director of the Global Green USA Legacy Program.

The organizations supporting the treaty include the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, Global Green USA, the League of Conservation Voters, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Zero Population Growth, and Population Action International. "The environmental community is proud to join veterans groups, religious organizations, the peace and arms control communities and others to support this vital treaty," said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club.

In the spring of 1995 the Tokyo and Yokohama gas attacks killed scores and injured thousands. "The nerve gas attacks in Japan proved to the world that we need to take urgent action to ensure public safety and environmental security. The Senate should approve the chemical weapons treaty now," proclaimed Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth.


March 14, 1997

Dear Senator Lott:

I am writing you on behalf of Human Rights Watch, the largest independent human rights organization in the United States, to urge that you schedule a Senate vote on ratification of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) at the earliest opportunity.

From a human rights perspective, the CWC is a critically important treaty. It will, for the first time, legally prohibit State Parties from developing, producing, stockpiling and using chemical weapons. The CWC will also provide the international community with a powerful new tool to prevent chemical weapons proliferation and production by non-State Parties. In doing so, the treaty will protect the lives of innocent civilians as well as American peacekeeping troops in conflict zones around the world. U.S. intelligence officials have testified recently that "about 20 countries ... have or are actively developing chemical and biological weapons."

Without U.S. leadership and participation, the CWC, which will come into force on April 29, will be a hollow treaty and fail to have its intended effect -- halting the proliferation of chemical weapons. As a country already committed to preventing proliferation and destroying its own stockpile of chemical weapons, it is in the interest of the U.S. to ratify the CWC promptly.

Chemical weapons have been used in the past to terrorize and kill unprotected civilians. Only a decade ago, Iraqi chemical weapons killed several thousand Kurdish civilians in the town of Halabja. More recently, the Japanese religious group, Aum Shinrikyo, killed twelve and injured over five thousand people in a nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway.

The CWC will:

The treaty has been the subject of a protracted and extensive debate in the Senate. It is now time to bring the issue of ratification to a vote. We therefore urge that you schedule a vote on CWC ratification shortly after the Senate returns from recess in early April.

Sincerely, Kenneth Roth
Executive Director

March 20, 1997

Dear Majority Leader Lott:

We are writing you as the leaders of national environmental organizations to urge your support for ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). This treaty, signed by President George Bush over four years ago, warrants your vote and active support before it enters into force on April 29, 1997.

The United States has long recognized the public health and environmental risk posed by our chemical weapons arsenal. Because this arsenal lacks military utility, the U.S. Congress has already approved a program to unilaterally eliminate our entire 31,000-ton unitary stockpile. U.S. ratification of the CWC, already signed by some 160 nations and ratified by 70 signatories, will afford us the opportunity to participate in the international effort to ban these weapons of mass destruction across the globe and to encourage other nations, especially Russia, to undertake the destruction of existing stockpiles.

In the U.S., stockpiles of these weapons are located in eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Oregon, and Utah. Public health and safety are at risk in the communities where these weapons are located and they will continue to be compromised until the weapons are destroyed. Congress has provided significant leadership in recent years in promoting the use of safe and effective methods of chemical weapons destruction. Ratification of the CWC is the vital next step.

We urge that you and the Senate act quickly to ratify the CWC and ensure the public health and environmental security for all Americans. Thank you.


John Adams
Executive Director
Natural Resources Defense Council

Deb Callahan
League of Conservation Voters

Hugo Hoogenboom
Population Action International
Peter Kostmayer
Executive Director
Zero Population Growth

Fredd Krupp
Executive Director
Environmental Defense Fund

Brent Blackwelder
Friends of the Earth
Robert Musil
Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility

Mathew Petersen
Executive Director
Global Green USA

Carl Pope
Executive Director
Sierra Club

Dear Senator:

We urge the Senate to approve the Chemical Weapons Convention when it comes to a vote in September.

The Convention, negotiated and signed by former President George Bush, is one of the most significant treaties in the history of arms control. It will ban an entire class of weapons of mass destruction, including production, possession, transfer or use of chemical weapons. It will require all parties to destroy their chemical weapon stockpiles and production facilities and to open their chemical industries to international inspection.

The Chemical Weapons Convention is a valuable instrument for combating the spread of weapons of terror and mass destruction. The treaty's destruction and verification provisions can build confidence among potential rivals that they can avoid a chemical arms race. It will also help keep these weapons out of the hands of terrorists.

The United States chemical industry strongly supports the Convention. The Pentagon strongly supports the agreement as well. It is most certainly in both the national and international interest to achieve the global elimination of a class of weapons that have proved more dangerous to innocent civilians than to military forces.

By its terms, the Convention enters into force 180 days after the 65th state has deposited its instruments of ratification with the U.N. Secretary General. Sixty-one countries have ratified the Convention at this point. Timely action by the Senate will send a clear signal of strong U.S. support, allowing the United States to exert its full leadership in persuading other countries to ratify.

We urge the Senate to approve as quickly as possible the Chemical Weapons Convention, to oppose crippling reservations or amendments, and at the same time move ahead with elimination of these heinous weapons from our arsenal.

Yours sincerely,

John B. Anderson
World Federal Association

Fr. Robert J. Brooks
Director of Governmental Relations
The Episcopal Church

with 50 additional signatures