CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION (Senate - April 24, 1997)

[Page: S3599]

--

Hon. Trent Lott,
Majority Leader, U.S. Senate,
Washington, DC.

Dear Mr. Leader: During Senate ratification proceedings on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), concerns have been raised over Article X, which provides for certain types of defensive assistance in the event that a State that has joined the treaty and renounced any chemical weapons (CW) capability is threatened with or suffers a chemical weapons attack, and Article XI, which encourages free trade in non-prohibited chemicals among states that adhere to the CWC. Some have suggested that these Articles could result in the CWC promoting, rather than stemming, CW proliferation despite States Parties' general obligation under Article I `never under any circumstances . . . to assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.'

To respond to these concerns, the Administration has worked closely with the Senate to develop conditions relating to both Articles that have now been incorporated in the resolution of ratification (Agreed Conditions #7 and 15). These two conditions would substantially reinforce and strengthen the treaty by: prohibiting the United States under Article X from (a) providing the CWC organization with funds that could be used for chemical weapons defense assistance to other States Parties; and (b) giving certain states that might join the treaty any assistance other than medical antidotes and treatment; and requiring the President to (a) certify that the CWC will not weaken the export controls established by the Australia Group and that each member of the Group intends to maintain such controls; (b) block any attempt within the Group to adopt a contrary position; and (c) report annually as to whether Australia Group controls remain effective.

With respect to the latter condition, I am pleased to inform you that we have now received official confirmations from the highest diplomatic levels in each of the 30 Australia Group nations that they agree that the Group's export control and nonproliferation measures are compatible with the CWC and that they are committed to maintain such controls in the future.

While supporting these guarantees and safeguards, you expressed the concern on Sunday that nations might still try to use Article X or XI to take proscribed actions that could undercut U.S. national security interests, notwithstanding the best efforts of U.S. diplomacy to prevent such actions. I am, therefore, prepared to provide the following specific assurance related to these two Articles:

In the event that a State Party or States Parties to the Convention act contrary to the obligations under Article I by:

(A) using Article X to justify providing defensive CW equipment, material or information to another State Party that could result in U.S. chemical protective equipment being compromised so that U.S. warfighting capabilities in a CW environment are significantly degraded;

(B) using Article XI to justify chemical transfers that would make it impossible for me to make the annual certification that the Australia Group remains a viable and effective mechanism for controlling CW proliferation; or

(C) carrying out transfers or exchanges under either Article X or XI which jeopardize U.S. national security by promoting CW proliferation:

I would, consistent with Article XVI of the CWC, regard such actions as extraordinary events that have jeopardized the supreme interests of the United States and therefore, in consultation with the Congress, be prepared to withdraw from the treaty.

Sincerely,
Bill Clinton.