Voice of America 3/19/97

U-S / CHEMICAL WEAPONS


BYLINE=RON PEMSTEIN
DATELINE=STATE DEPARTMENT
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:

INTRO: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION IS TRYING TO CONVINCE THE U-S SENATE TO RATIFY THE GLOBAL CHEMICAL WEAPONS TREATY BY APRIL 28TH, ONE DAY BEFORE THE TREATY TAKES EFFECT WITH OR WITHOUT AMERICAN RATIFICATION. RON PEMSTEIN REPORTS FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT, THE ADMINISTRATION AND SENATE CONSERVATIVES HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS ON WHETHER TO HOLD A VOTE.

TEXT: ACCORDING TO SURVEYS DONE FOR THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION, 84 PERCENT OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SUPPORT U-S RATIFICATION OF THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION. THE ADMINISTRATION FEELS THAT IF THE TREATY WERE VOTED ON BY THE U-S SENATE, IT WOULD BE RATIFIED BY THE NECESSARY TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY.

HOWEVER, THE TREATY, NEGOTIATED BY PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH'S ADMINISTRATION, FACES AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE BECAUSE OF THE DETERMINED OPPOSITION OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE -- REPUBLICAN JESSE HELMS.

SENATOR HELMS HAS SWORN TO BLOCK THE TREATY FROM EVEN BEING CONSIDERED BY THE SENATE. HE TOLD A CONSERVATIVE GROUP THE TREATY WILL NOT BE EFFECTIVE IN STOPPING OTHER NATIONS THAT PRODUCE CHEMICAL WEAPONS.

///HELMS ACT///

THIS TREATY WILL DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO REDUCE THE DANGERS OF POISON GAS. ALMOST NONE OF THE NATIONS THAT POSE A CHEMICAL WEAPONS THREAT AGAINST US, SUCH AS IRAQ AND SYRIA AND LIBYA AND NORTH KOREA, THEY ARE NOT SIGNATORIES TO THE TREATY.

///END ACT///

THE ADMINISTRATION ANSWER TO SENATOR HELMS IS THAT THE UNITED STATES WOULD BE BETTER OFF SHAPING THE TREATY WHEN IT GOES INTO EFFECT, BECAUSE IT WOULD ALLOW AMERICANS TO BE PRESENT AS TREATY INSPECTORS AND ADMINISTRATORS. THESE (U-S) POSITIONS WOULD DISAPPEAR IF THE UNITED STATES DOES NOT RATIFY THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION.

JOHN HOLUM, THE DIRECTOR OF THE U-S ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY, SAYS CHEMICAL WEAPONS PRODUCERS WILL FEEL THE TREATY'S EFFECT WHETHER THEY RATIFY THE TREATY OR NOT.

///HOLUM ACT///

OBVIOUSLY THEY ARE SUBJECT TO ON-SITE INSPECTIONS, INCLUDING ROUTINE INSPECTIONS AND CHALLENGE INSPECTIONS. IF THEY ARE CAUGHT CHEATING -- AND THE CHANCES OF CATCHING A CHEMICAL WEAPONS PROGRAM WILL BE MUCH HIGHER UNDER THE TREATY THAN WITHOUT IT -- THEN THEY WILL BE SUBJECT TO SANCTIONS. IF THEY DON'T JOIN THE TREATY, THEY ARE PUNISHED ECONOMICALLY BY RESTRICTIONS ON TRADE IN RELEVANT CHEMICALS THAT ARE ALSO IMPORTANT FOR INDUSTRY, AGRICULTURE, HEALTH AND A VARIETY OF OTHER FIELDS AND THEY WILL BE ISOLATED POLITICALLY.

///END ACT///

IF SENATOR HELMS IS DETERMINED TO BLOCK AMERICAN RATIFICATION BECAUSE OF TREATY VERIFICATION CONCERNS, THE MINORITY DEMOCRATS IN THE SENATE HAVE DECIDED TO USE PRESSURE TACTICS OF THEIR OWN TO BRING THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION TO A VOTE.

SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER TOM DASCHLE SAYS THE DEMOCRATS WILL BLOCK A COMPROMISE PROPOSAL ON DRUG CERTIFICATION OF MEXICO UNLESS THE TREATY IS BROUGHT TO THE SENATE FOR A RATIFICATION VOTE.

///DASCHLE ACT///

WE'RE DETERMINED TO GET A DATE FOR (A VOTE ON) THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION AND UNLESS WE GET SOME SORT OF A DATE, WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE INCLINED TO MOVE ANY ADDITIONAL LEGISLATION, EVEN MEXICO THIS WEEK.

///END ACT///

AMERICAN RATIFICATION IS IMPORTANT FOR OTHER COUNTRIES AS WELL. DIRECTOR HOLUM SAYS RUSSIA IS NOT LIKELY TO RATIFY THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION IF THE U-S SENATE REFUSES TO GO ALONG.

RUSSIAN CONCERNS CENTER ON THE COST AND ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE THAT MIGHT BE INFLICTED BY DESTRUCTION OF ITS CHEMICAL WEAPONS STOCKPILE. THE UNITED STATES HAS SAID IT WILL ELIMINATE ALL ITS CHEMICAL WEAPONS BY THE YEAR 2005 WHETHER THE TREATY IS RATIFIED BY THE SENATE OR NOT.

SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT WILL TRY TO CHANGE THE MIND OF SENATOR HELMS ON THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION WHEN SHE TRAVELS NEXT WEEK TO HIS NATIVE (STATE OF) NORTH CAROLINA FOR A FULL DAY OF DISCUSSIONS ABOUT A BIPARTISAN FOREIGN POLICY.
(SIGNED)

NEB/RP/RRM

19-Mar-97 5:44 PM EST (2244 UTC)