Voice of America 3/9/97
THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS DEBATE
BYLINE=MAXIM KNIAZKOV
DATELINE=WASHINGTON
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:

INTRO: LESS THAN TWO-MONTHS BEFORE THE FORMAL ENACTMENT OF THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION, THE BATTLE FOR ITS RATIFICATION IN THE UNITED STATES IS ENTERING THE FINAL STAGES. FACED WITH STRONG OPPOSITION FROM REPUBLICANS IN THE SENATE, THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION IS PROMISING A FULL-COURT PRESS TO WIN APPROVAL FOR THAT INTERNATIONAL TREATY. V-O-A'S MAXIM KNIAZKOV LOOKS INTO THE ADMINISTRATION'S CHANCES TO SUCCEED.

TEXT: FOR THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION, THE RACE FOR CONVENTION RATIFICATION BEGAN IN LATE OCTOBER. IT WAS THEN HUNGARY'S PARLIAMENT PUT ITS STAMP OF APPROVAL ON THE 1993 TREATY BANNING DEVELOPMENT, PRODUCTION, STOCKPILING, AND TRANSFER OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS.

BY BECOMING THE 65TH COUNTRY TO RATIFY THE CONVENTION SIGNED BY A TOTAL OF NEARLY 150 STATES, HUNGARY SET IN MOTION AN AUTOMATIC 180-DAY ENACTMENT MECHANISM. WITH OR WITHOUT THE UNITED STATES, THE CONVENTION WILL TAKE EFFECT APRIL 29TH.

PRESIDENT CLINTON'S KEY STRATEGIST IN THE BATTLE FOR CONVENTION RATIFICATION, LORI ESPOSITO MURRAY, SAYS FAILURE TO APPROVE THE ACCORD WOULD HAVE MOST NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES FOR THE UNITED STATES.

// ACT ONE ESPOSITO MURRAY //

IF WE ARE NOT AN ORIGINAL STATE PARTY, WE LOSE OUR ABILITY TO LEAD, AND MANAGE, AND INFLUENCE THE CONVENTION RULES AND GUIDELINES. THE MOST STARK EXAMPLE OF THIS IS THAT WE WILL LOSE OUR SEAT ON THE GOVERNING BODY CALLED THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL FOR AT LEAST A YEAR. AND THEY ARE BASICALLY GOING TO BE DOING THE RULES OF THE ROAD IN TERMS OF INDUSTRY AND MILITARY VERIFICATION.

// END ACT //

MS. ESPOSITO MURRAY ADDED NON-RATIFICATION OF THE CONVENTION WILL MEAN THERE WILL BE NO AMERICANS AMONG VERIFICATION INSPECTORS. SHE SAYS AMERICA'S CREDENTIALS AS A LEADER IN ARMS CONTROL WILL BE UNDERMINED.

ON THE OTHER HAND, IF THE ACCORD IS RATIFIED, MS. ESPOSITO MURRAY SAYS IT WILL HELP ADDRESS NUMEROUS PROLIFERATION CONCERNS.

// ACT TWO ESPOSITO MURRAY //

THE NON-PROLIFERATION ASPECT OF THE CONVENTION WILL RETARD THE SPREAD OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS AND IN SO DOING REDUCE THE PROBABILITY THAT U-S FORCES MAY ENCOUNTER CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN A REGIONAL CONFLICT. BASICALLY HERE, THE TREATY IS ABOUT -- WHAT IS INTERESTING ABOUT THIS CONVENTION AS OPPOSED TO OTHER ARMS CONTROL RATIFICATION EFFORTS -- THIS CONVENTION IS BASICALLY ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE'S WEAPONS AND NOT OUR OWN.

// END ACT //

BUT THE CONCERN ABOUT "OTHER PEOPLE'S WEAPONS" IS ALSO THE LINCHPIN OF A STRATEGY SET FORTH BY CONVENTION OPPONENTS. THEY SAY RUSSIA, WHICH HAS 40-THOUSAND TONS OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS, HAS NOT RATIFIED THE CONVENTION AND IS NOT LIKELY TO DO SO IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE. LED BY CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN SENATOR JESSE HELMS, WHO CALLED THE ACCORD DUMB AND DANGEROUS, CONVENTION OPPONENTS ALSO POINT TO COUNTRIES LIKE LIBYA, IRAQ, SYRIA, AND NORTH KOREA -- ALL SUSPECTED OF HAVING SECRET CHEMICAL WEAPONS PROGRAMS.

AN ARMS CONTROL ANALYST WITH THE CONSERVATIVE HERITAGE FOUNDATION, BAKER SPRING, SUMMED UP THE OPPOSITION'S MISGIVINGS BY SAYING THE TREATY WOULD SIMPLY BE UNABLE TO ADVANCE THE CAUSE OF ARMS CONTROL.

// ACT THREE SPRING //

IT BASICALLY DOES NOT DO ANYTHING TO FURTHER THE INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES. THE TREATY IS NEITHER VERIFIABLE NOR ENFORCEABLE. AS A RESULT, IT WILL MAKE THE UNITED STATES AND OTHER PARTICIPANTS BELIEVE THAT THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS THREATS, WHILE IN FACT WILL WILL DO REALLY NOTHING TO RESOLVE THE THREAT. IT IS WHAT I CALL FEEL-GOOD ARMS CONTROL.

// END ACT //

LAST WEEK, CONVENTION OPPONENTS RECEIVED A BOOST FROM THREE FORMER SECRETARIES OF DEFENSE -- JAMES SCHLESINGER, CASPAR WEINBERGER AND DONALD RUMSFELD. THEY LAUNCHED A WITHERING ATTACK ON THE TREATY IN AN ARTICLE IN "THE WASHINGTON POST" NEWSPAPER, SAYING THE ACCORD WILL LEAVE THE UNITED STATES AND ITS ALLIES MORE VULNERABLE TO CHEMICAL ATTACK.

MR. SPRING BELIEVES THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S CHANCES OF WINNING CONVENTION APPROVAL IN THE SENATE DO NOT LOOK GOOD.

// ACT FOUR SPRING //

I THINK THAT IT IS WORSE THAN 50-50 THAT THE ADMINISTRATION WILL SEE THE SENATE CONSENT TO THE RATIFICATION OF THIS CONVENTION PRIOR THE APRIL 29TH DEADLINE. ON TOP OF THAT, SOME COUNTRIES ARE GOING TO RECONSIDER THEIR PARTICIPATION IN THE TREATY, IF IN FACT NEITHER THE UNITED STATES, NOR RUSSIA OR CHINA DECIDE TO RATIFY.

// END ACT //

BUT ANALYSTS SAY THE GLOVES IN THE BATTLE FOR THE CONVENTION HAVE NOT REALLY COME OFF YET. THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION HAS SECURED THE SUPPORT OF THE POWERFUL U-S CHEMICAL MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION. ANALYSTS SAY THE PICTURE MAY CHANGE, WHEN THE ADMINISTRATION'S LOBBYING CAMPAIGN GOES FULL THROTTLE. (SIGNED)

NEB/MAX/RAE

09-Mar-97 12:34 PM EST (1734 UTC)