DATE=02/12/97
TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP
NUMBER=6-10019
TITLE=THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS TREATY HOLDUP
BYLINE=ANDREW N. GUTHRIE
TELEPHONE=619-3335
DATELINE=WASHINGTON
EDITOR=GARY EDQUIST

CONTENT=

INTRO: A NEW AND EXPANDED CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION TREATY GOES INTO EFFECT ON APRIL 29TH. IT WILL BAN THE PRODUCTION, STORAGE AND USE OF NERVE GAS AND OTHER CHEMICAL AGENTS. ALTHOUGH SIGNED FOUR YEARS AGO BY PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH, THE UNITED STATES IS ONE OF THE FEW MAJOR POWERS YET TO RATIFY THE TREATY.

SENATOR JESSE HELMS, NORTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN AND CHAIRMAN OF THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE HAS RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE TREATY, AND HAS REFUSED TO SEND IT TO THE FLOOR FOR A VOTE. AS THE DEADLINE FOR RATIFICATION NEARS, THE ISSUE IS DRAWING A WIDE RESPONSE IN THE U-S PRESS AND WE GET A SAMPLING NOW FROM _______________ IN TODAY'S U-S OPINION ROUNDUP.

TEXT: THE TREATY WILL NOT ONLY BAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS BUT ALSO MANDATES THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL EXISTING CHEMICAL WEAPONS STOCKS. [OPT] THE UNITED STATES ALREADY HAS COMMITTED ITSELF, UNILATERALLY, TO DESTROYING ITS CHEMICAL WEAPONS STOCKPILE BY THE YEAR 2-THOUSAND-FOUR, AND TO STOP MAKING NEW AGENTS, WHETHER IT RATIFIES THIS TREATY OR NOT. SO FAR 68 COUNTRIES, INCLUDING MANY OF THIS NATION'S WESTERN ALLIES, HAVE RATIFIED THE AGREEMENT.

AS THE DEADLINE NEARS, PRESSURE INCREASES ON SENATOR HELMS TO LET THE TREATY BE VOTED ON THE FULL SENATE. [END OPT] CRITICS SAY THIS TREATY IS NEITHER ENFORCEABLE NOR VERIFIABLE. AND THEY FEAR THAT IF THIS COUNTRY BECOMES GOVERNED BY THE TREATY, LARGE U-S CHEMICAL COMPANIES MIGHT BE FORCED TO REVEAL FOR INTERNATIONAL INSPECTION PATENTED CHEMICALS AND MACHINERY THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MAKING CHEMICAL WEAPONS. WE BEGIN OUR EDITORIALS SAMPLING NOW WITH THE DESERET (DES-UH-RET) NEWS FROM SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH.

VOICE: "[OPT] FOUR YEARS AGO, PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH SIGNED THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION TREATY - - ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DISARMAMENT PACTS IN WORLD HISTORY. A TOTAL OF 160 NATIONS ALSO SIGNED [AS OPPOSED TO RATIFYING IT] THE TREATY. ODDLY, HOWEVER, THE U-S SENATE HAS STEADFASTLY REFUSED TO RATIFY IT. UNLESS IT DOES SO BY THE END OF APRIL, THE UNITED STATES WILL BE CLASSED WITH THE OUTLAW NATIONS OF THE WORLD - - IRAQ, LIBYA, SYRIA AND NORTH KOREA. [END OPT] .... SENATE OPPOSITION IS DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND. IT SEEMS BASED ON HALF-TRUTHS AND INNUENDO. ..... THE AIM OF THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION IS TO FORCE THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD TO DESTROY THEIR CHEMICAL WEAPONS AND THE FACILITIES IN WHICH THEY ARE MADE. SINCE THE UNITED STATES ALREADY HAS STARTED THIS PROCESS, IT HAS NOTHING TO GAIN BY REFUSING TO JOIN A TREATY THAT WOULD REQUIRE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME."

TEXT: THE WASHINGTON TIMES IS CAUTIOUS, HOWEVER, AND SUGGESTS THE TREATY MAY PUT THE U-S AT A DISADVANTAGE.

VOICE: "[OPT] ... ON THE FACE OF IT, DOING AWAY WITH CHEMICAL WEAPONS SEEMS LIKE A PERFECTLY UNIMPEACHABLE GOAL, LIKE REDUCING NUCLEAR WEAPONS, OR ELIMINATING LAND MINES, ALL OF WHICH THE ADMINISTRATION HAS ON ITS PLATE [AGENDA]. THE PROBLEM WITH ALL THESE WORTHY PROJECTS, HOWEVER, REMAINS THE SAME: [END OPT] WHILE THE UNITED STATES (AND OTHER DEMOCRATIC NATIONS) DISARM AND STOP PRODUCTION IN ACCORDANCE WITH TREATY OBLIGATIONS, OTHER COUNTRIES WITH LESS PUNCTILIOUS REGIMES PLAY FAST AND LOOSE WITH THE RULES. INSTEAD OF MULTILATERAL DISARMAMENT, UNILATERAL DISARMAMENT RESULTS. .... AS REPORTED BY THE WASHINGTON TIMES ..... EVEN AS THE U-S ADMINISTRATION IS PRESSING FOR CWC RATIFICATION, THE RUSSIANS ARE FINDING WAYS TO CIRCUMVENT THE TREATY."

TEXT: THE NEW YORK TIMES DISAGREES, FINDING THE TREATY WORTHWHILE AND SENATOR HELMS' RESISTANCE A MOCKERY OF THE SENATE.

VOICE: "[OPT] [SENATE MAJORITY LEADER] TRENT LOTT AND HIS FELLOW REPUBLICANS MAY FEEL A NEED TO HUMOR JESSE HELMS IN HIS ERRATIC MANAGEMENT OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, BUT THEY ONLY EMBARRASS THEMSELVES AND THE SENATE BY LETTING MR. HELMS HIJACK A TREATY THAT WOULD BAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS. [END OPT] MR. HELMS PLANS TO SET ASIDE CONSIDERATION OF THE TREATY UNTIL HE CAN FORCE THE STATE DEPARTMENT AND THE UNITED NATIONS TO REORGANIZE THEMSELVES. THAT COULD TAKE YEARS. ..... IF WASHINGTON MISSES THAT APRIL DEADLINE, AMERICANS WILL BE LEGALLY EXCLUDED FROM THE NEW INTERNATIONAL INSPECTION AND MONITORING BODIES THE CONVENTION ESTABLISHES, AND UNITED STATES CHEMICAL COMPANIES WILL FACE PUNITIVE RESTRICTIONS TREATY NEGOTIATORS MEANT TO BE APPLIED TO ROGUE STATES LIKE LIBYA, IRAQ AND NORTH KOREA. ... ON A MATTER OF SUCH CLEAR IMPORTANCE AND BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT, THE SENATE SHOULD NOT ALLOW ITSELF TO BE MANIPULATED BY MR. HELMS."

TEXT: HOWEVER THE NEW YORK POST FEELS MR. HELMS' CAUTION IS WELL-FOUNDED AND SUGGESTS THE COUNTRY "GO SLOW ON THE CHEMICAL-ARMS TREATY," ADDING:

VOICE: "WE KNOW IT'S CONSIDERED MANDATORY IN SOME CIRCLES TO MOCK THE POLITICAL JUDGMENT OF SENATOR JESSE HELMS ..... WHO CHAIRS THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE. BUT [SENATOR] HELMS' VIEWS HAVE FREQUENTLY PROVED MORE SOUND THAN THE CONVENTIONAL-BELTWAY [I.E. WASHINGTON] WISDOM. THE LATEST CASE IN POINT IS THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION (CWC) ..... IN ADDITION TO BEING UNVERIFIABLE AND UNENFORCEABLE, THE CWC WILL OPEN THE DOOR WIDE TO INDUSTRIAL SPYING IN THE U-S. .... THERE'S NO REASON WHY [SENATOR] HELMS' FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE SHOULD NOT ENCOURAGE A SERIOUS DEBATE ABOUT THE TREATY'S IMPLICATIONS FOR NATIONAL SECURITY."

TEXT: IN A FINAL COMMENT, USA TODAY, SAYS:

VOICE: "[SENATOR] HELMS AND HIS ALLIES SUGGEST THE TREATY IS FLAWED. IN FACT, THE FLAWS THEY POINT TO ARE TRIVIAL OR FALSE. ...... LIKE MOST TREATIES, THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION FALLS SHORT OF PERFECTION. BUT THIS BAN COULD CURTAIL PROLIFERATION OF WEAPONS THE U-S DOESN'T NEED."

TEXT: ON THAT NOTE, WE CONCLUDE THIS BRIEF SAMPLING OF OPINION ON THE PENDING DEADLINE TO RATIFY THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS TREATY AND SENATOR JESSE HELMS' OBJECTIONS TO IT.

NEB/ANG/GE

12-Feb-97 1:03 PM EST (1803 UTC)

Source: Voice of America