March 22, 1994

STATEMENT BY THE HONORABLE JOHN D. HOLUM
DIRECTOR, U.S. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS UNITED STATES SENATE

Mr. Chairman, at the outset, I would like to thank you for scheduling this first ratification hearing on the Chemical Weapons Convention. Today's hearing demonstrates strong United States leadership in global arms control. Your efforts will surely encourage other countries to proceed on the road to ratification, permitting the Convention's entry into force early next year. Stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is at the very top of President Clinton's foreign policy agenda. When I became director of ACDA, the President urged me to spare no effort to halt the serious threat that these weapons pose to our country and to world peace. The Chemical Weapons Convention is a critical element of our nonproliferation efforts. I appear before you today in support of the President's pledge to the American people: that his Administration will Marshall all the necessary resources and efforts to combat the scourge of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction.

CWC AS A BREAKTHROUGH: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Chemical Weapons Convention is an extraordinary arms-control achievement. As you know, chemical weapons have long been recognized as a profoundly inhumane and indiscriminate method of warfare. As long ago as 1925, the Geneva Protocol banned the use of chemical weapons in war. However, reservations turned the Protocol into a no-first-use treaty. The right to develop and maintain chemical arsenals remained intact -- meaning that states could keep them on hand for ready use if they were so inclined.

Recognizing the obvious limits of the 1925 Protocol, the international community struggled, over a 25-year period, to negotiate a comprehensive chemical weapons convention. These negotiations have taken place in Geneva in the Conference on Disarmament. When the negotiations at last concluded in September 1992, the Conference had fashioned a treaty regime with the most comprehensive ban ever devised against a single type of weapon of mass destruction. The Bush Administration joined 129 other nations in signing the Chemical Weapons Convention on January 13, 1993, making it possible to close the door against not only use of chemical weapons but virtually every other activity associated with an offensive chemical weapons program.

The Arms Control and Disarmament Agency played the lead role in negotiating the Chemical Weapons Convention, championing it in the Conference on Disarmament's Ad Hoc Committee in Geneva and providing leadership in Washington. ACDA has also supplied leadership in the work of the Chemical Weapons Convention's Preparatory Commission in the Hague. Our Agency will continue its active role upon entry into force of the Convention, as the executive office of the U.S. National Authority which will oversee implementation of the CWC.

THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS THREAT

The members of the Committee are well aware of the dangers posed by chemical weapons. During negotiations on the Convention, we focused on the need to eliminate the Soviet chemical threat to the U.S. and NATO. Now, the Soviet Union is no more and the risk that Russia will use the chemical weapons it inherited from the soviet Union against the U.S. and NATO has substantially diminished. But the worldwide threat has grown and chemical weapon threats today are far more diverse and geographically diffuse than in the past. We need the Convention to address the Russian stockpile but also, perhaps more importantly, as a critical tool to eliminate other chemical weapons arsenals and prevent further CW proliferation.

Approximately 25 nations are now suspected of either possessing chemical weapons or having the capability to produce them. Among them are Iraq and Libya -- countries not known for their restraint. Chemical weapons have been termed the "poor man's nuclear bomb" because they can be manufactured from chemicals that, although they are in many cases controlled, are nevertheless available for purchase. And now, the dangers from chemical weapons are aggravated by the production and potential proliferation of ballistic missiles that can hurl a CW warhead hundreds of miles. Moreover, unlike the nuclear threshold, the chemical weapons threshold has proved all too easy to cross.

In the twentieth century, nuclear weapons have been used but once, when they were employed to end the Pacific War. During this same time, however, nations repeatedly have unleashed chemical weapons to achieve their military or political goals. Our soldiers were gassed in World War I. Chemical weapons were used in Ethiopia in the 1930s, in Manchuria in the 1940s and in Yemen in the 1960s. During the Iran/Iraq war, chemical attacks became commonplace. Saddam Hussein dropped chemical bombs on the Kurds in order to suppress their rebellion in 1989. As recently as the Persian Gulf War, our own troops faced a potential chemical weapons threat from Iraq.

It is important that three-quarters of the 25 countries identified as having a chemical weapons potential have signed the CWC. We want them to ratify it as well, and ultimately to attain universal adherence.

KEY ELEMENTS OF THE CWC

Mr. Chairman, the CWC is both a disarmament and a nonproliferation Treaty. It establishes an unprecedented global norm against chemical weapons that, over time, will help eliminate this serious threat to our country and to world peace:

Let me amplify on some of these elements of the Treaty:

VERIFICATION

The Convention contains an unprecedented verification regime, coupled with provisions for dealing with parties that do not comply with their obligations. The CWC is the first multilateral treaty to require intrusive, short-notice challenge inspections of declared and undeclared sites.

Through required declarations and routine inspections, information will be obtained about other countries, chemical weapons capabilities and destruction activities. If, as a result of this information or other information obtained by national intelligence means, we suspect another country of illicit chemical weapons activities, we can initiate on-site challenge inspections under the treaty.

While no treaty is one hundred percent verifiable, the CWC will increase the risk of detection and therefore help deter illicit chemical weapons activities. Its declaration and inspection provisions will put us in a better position than we are now to identify and detect clandestine CW efforts. In the largest sense, we are building a web of deterrence, detection and possible sanctions that reduces the incentives for states to build chemical weapons.

The Convention also requires other countries to destroy their chemical weapon stocks in a safe and environmentally-sound manner. We will be able to satisfy ourselves, during the destruction process, that other countries have met their environmental and safety obligations.

PROTECTION OF SENSITIVE AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION

The CWC's verification regime strikes a reasonable balance between the need to verify compliance, on the one hand, and the need to protect sensitive government information and proprietary information, not related to chemical weapons. In particular, the Convention's provisions for challenge inspections allow parties to protect such information by managing access to sensitive or private facilities.

All inspections to verify compliance with the CWC will be carried out fully in accordance with the U.S. Constitution. The implementing legislation for the Convention will ensure that activities will be conducted without infringing upon constitutional protections.

TREATY SANCTIONS

If a country does not meet its CWC obligations, it could face serious penalties. Violating the convention will carry with it a demonstrable political price. In cases of serious violations, the CWC organization can recommend the imposition of collective sanctions on a country engaging in illicit chemical weapons activities. In cases of particular gravity, it must bring the matter to the attention of the U.N. General Assembly and security Council. Finally, individuals and corporations are also subject to the prohibitions of the Convention and can be prosecuted in national courts.

CONCERN ABOUT STATES THAT DO NOT JOIN THE CONVENTION

Mr. Chairman, let me anticipate a question: why should we ratify the CWC and give up our chemical weapons when we cannot be sure that states we are most concerned about will also join? The answer to that question has three parts. First, we have already decided to eliminate a large part of our chemical arsenal. Congress has directed the Defense Department to destroy our unitary chemical weapons stockpile and make plans to destroy all other chemical weapons material that is banned by the CWC. As we unilaterally dismantle our own chemical weapons, it makes sense to seek the destruction of other countries' chemical weapons as well. The Convention imposes binding obligations on all parties to do what the United States has already begun to do. So the Convention has great value even if a few radical states do not join at the outset.

Second, we are convinced that the answer to the use of chemical weapons must not be retaliation in kind, but rather a full range of defensive measures -- such as filtering systems for tanks and lightweight anti-chemical weapons gear -- coupled with a strong deterrent. The Persian Gulf War provided a convincing, real life demonstration that the U.S. military is highly capable of deterring or responding to a chemical weapons threat with superior conventional military force and strategy.

The U.S. Government has long recognized that we do have a need to maintain our defensive chemical weapons programs as well as a need to give assistance to countries that are threatened or attacked with chemical weapons. The CWC explicitly allows both these measures. Many countries view these provisions as a significant incentive to join the Convention. I can assure you that the U.S. has developed and will continue to develop defensive, protective measures that fully protect our military forces against all chemical weapon threats.

The third part of my answer to the question of why we should ratify the CWC, even if certain states do not join, is this: by establishing a global norm against chemical weapons, the convention will give the U.S. and world community a more effective means of pressuring radical governments to abandon their CW capabilities. The CWC also contains specific provisions for penalizing countries that do not join. States remaining outside the Convention will be denied access to State Party trade in specified chemicals that are important not only to CW production but also to industrial development and growth. These states will soon be viewed as pariahs and subjected to international pressure to abide by the Convention's global norm banning CW. Over time, we would hope that states will realize the high political and economic costs of remaining an outlaw and seek to become members.

THE U.S. DEMIL PROGRAM

Our own obligations under the Convention can be met safely and on time. The dangers of leakage and contamination from storing highly-toxic chemical weapons outweigh any potential risk from destroying our CW stocks. The National Research Council rendered this judgment last month when it reported on the Army's Baseline program to destroy our chemical weapons in high-temperature incinerators. The NRC said: "The baseline system has been demonstrated as a safe and effective disposal process for the stockpile.... Delays in disposal operation can only increase the already cumulative risk of accidental release from storage ... and they can add to the risks of disposal as agents and munitions continue to deteriorate.... The Committee believes that the disposal program should proceed expeditiously."

Clearly, the Baseline program will eliminate a serious risk to the health of our people and the quality of our environment. Investing in near-term destruction of chemical weapons through the Baseline program therefore makes good environmental policy as well as arms control sense.

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT AND SUPPORT FROM KEY CONSTITUENCIES

I would like to emphasize, Mr. Chairman, that this ratification effort is a strong example of bipartisanship and continuity. It was President Bush's deep personal commitment to the cause of banning chemical weapons that led the United States finally to conclude this treaty, which the U.S. signed seven days before he left office. President Clinton has made the Convention a foreign policy priority of his Administration as well, stressing it in his address to the United Nations last September and in his State of the Union Address in January.

The Convention also enjoys strong support from affected constituencies. The final text of the Convention reflected the views of the U.S. military, the intelligence community, the chemical industry and the Congress -- all of which have a compelling interest in the treaty and especially its verification provisions. Prior to signing the CWC, the U.S. Government conducted a thorough interagency review of the entire treaty, and decided that the balances it struck adequately protect U.S. interests. The Chemical Manufacturers Association has fully endorsed the Convention on behalf of its members and other trade associations have expressed their support. During the ratification hearings, you will be hearing from numerous witnesses from the U.S. Government and industry who strongly support the Convention.

CONCLUSION

I would like to conclude my testimony today where I began -- with the threat to our nation's security and to world peace from chemical weapons. Mr. Chairman, by joining other countries to ban chemical weapons, we have directly confronted a major threat of the post-Cold War period. The Convention will go a long way to preventing radical states from acquiring and using chemical weapons against innocent people.

I urge the Senate to fully consider the Chemical Weapons Convention and swiftly give its advice and consent to ratification. Other nations now look to the Senate for a firm sign of America's commitment to the Convention and to its earliest entry into force. Prompt Senate action will send an unmistakable message to other countries, friends and even adversaries, that the United States means business. You will demonstrate conclusively that the U.S. stands four-square behind this new global regime that demolishes, once and for all, the claimed legitimacy of chemical weapons and halts their further proliferation. U.S. leadership in this matter will enhance the effectiveness of our other arms-control efforts -- including a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and indefinite extension of the Nonproliferation Treaty. In sum, early ratification of the CWC will underscore U.S. leadership, establish a vital arms control precedent, and help secure a safer world for us all. I thank you for your attention and I urge you to meet the President's challenge of early advice and consent so that the Convention can enter into force at the earliest possible date -- January 1995.