CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION (Senate - April 24, 1997)

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Mr. LOTT. On September 12, the day the Senate was scheduled to begin debate on the convention, Secretary of State Christopher called me and asked that the vote be canceled. I quizzed him. I wanted to make sure that was what the administration was asking and that I would be able to come out to the floor of the Senate and explain that is why it was being done. It was canceled because it was clear, in my opinion, the convention was likely to be rejected at that time by the Senate.

I acceded to the Secretary's request. We canceled the vote, and it went back to the Foreign Relations Committee calendar at the end of the 104th Congress.

In January of this year, the President and his national security advisers made it clear that the Chemical Weapons Convention remained a top priority. On January 8, 1997, I wrote to the President explaining some of our arms control priorities, including the submission of three significant treaty modifications for advice and consent: The ABM Demarcation Agreement, the ABM Multilateralization Agreement and the flank agreement to the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. The administration had previously refused to submit these treaties for Senate ratification.

I wrote at that time.

Bipartisanship is a two-way street. Your administration has now restarted a public campaign to gain Senate advice and consent for the Chemical Weapons Convention. As you seek bipartisan cooperation, you must understand our expectation for such cooperation on ABM multilateralization, ABM demarcation and CFE flank limits.

On March 18, I again wrote the President reminding him that I had not received a response to that January 8 letter. I also pointed out that `it is essential that you and your administration honor the publicly stated commitments to work closely and expeditiously with Chairman Helms on issues before the committee, including the presentation of a plan to reorganize the U.S. foreign affairs agencies.

From the beginning of the 105th Congress, I made clear as best I could to all who would listen in the administration that bipartisanship could not mean forcing the Senate into acting on administration-chosen priorities if we did not likewise have an opportunity to consider issues that are important to the Senate, in fact, issues we think have long since been sent to us for action with regard to arms control treaties.

We stated that we thought it was vital that we get State Department reorganization and real reform at the United Nations. This was not a quid pro quo but a simple statement of reality. Working in a cooperative fashion, as we must, means that both sides have to be forthcoming on issues in these foreign policy very important, critical areas.

Let me briefly review the status of each of these three related issues. On the arms control treaties, the administration did reconsider their positions very carefully and they came back and agreed to send the Conventional Forces in Europe Flank Agreement to the Senate for advice and consent.

Hearings have already been scheduled on this treaty, and I expect a resolution of ratification to be before the full Senate in the near future. President Clinton agreed to submit the agreed statement on demarcation to the Senate for advice and consent. This treaty, agreed to in principle between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin at the Helsinki summit, will provide the Senate an opportunity to consider the administration's approach toward negotiating constraints on our defensive systems pursuant to the administration's interpretation of the ABM Treaty. I am sure we will have quite an interesting and lively debate on that, but certainly we should take advantage of our responsibilities to do just that. Along with many of my colleagues, I have expressed grave doubts about the wisdom of this administration's approach in that area. Now, however, we have a full opportunity to debate the policy and this treaty in the ratification process.

The President still does not agree that they should send forward the treaty dealing with multilateralization. We think the Constitution requires it; his lawyers disagree. We will continue to press the administration to accept our position in this area, and they understand we should keep talking about it.

If this provision is contained in the final agreement that is submitted to the Senate for advice and consent in connection with demarcation, it will give us an opportunity to debate it.

On U.N. reform, our now Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asked that we begin to actually meet and talk about U.N. reform; that we meet with a U.N. presiding officer; that he come and visit with us. He did. We have started a process between the House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats, our chairmen and ranking members, to take a look at what should be done with regard to the arrearages we may or may not owe, how can we deal with the U.S. assessment at the United Nations that could be fairer, and we are working from a comprehensive Republican document as a basis for the discussions. I think we see some action already occurring. The Secretary General has been working at it, and I think he understands we are very serious about U.N. reform.

On State Department reorganization, I am very pleased that the administration has proposed, I think, some major changes. Chairman Helms, and many others, have worked to streamline our foreign policy bureaucracy, and now it looks like we are going to have a chance to do that.

The Agency for International Development, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the U.S. Information Agency were started and organized during the cold war. Barely more than a year ago, President Clinton vetoed a bill which would have mandated the dismantling of only one foreign affairs agency. Last week, however, thanks to the efforts of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the involvement of the President, the President agreed to abolish both the USIA and ACDA and to fold many of AID's functions into the State Department. This will make our scarce resources go farther, increase coordination and help ensure American interests, not bureaucratic interests, are behind our foreign policy decisionmaking.

On each of these parallel issues--and I call them parallel, that is the way they have always been discussed--we have made progress. I think it is important that we realize that. Thanks to the persistence of the chairman and thanks to a Secretary of State that is working with us now, we have made progress with U.N. reform, with State Department reorganization, and the fact we will be able to consider these treaties. No serious observer can claim that we have not moved forward in these areas.

There have been important changes in the Chemical Weapons Convention over the past few months. Last September, I worked closely with Senators Helms, Kyl and others in opposition to the treaty. Had we not canceled the vote, I would have voted against it, and I believe that it would have failed.

In the aftermath of that debate, some in the White House blamed political motivations. The President said it was partisan politics involving America's security. But, fortunately, calmer heads have prevailed this year. The administration did come to the table and they have negotiated with us. They recognize the legitimate concerns that were ignored last year. So we have engaged in a process of member-and-staff-level discussions that have had a major impact on this convention.

There are 28 agreed items in this resolution of ratification that were not there last September. Senator Kyl, Senator Helms, and Senator Biden have been working together on this. They reached agreements. Some of them Senator Biden said, `Yes, we should do this,' and the administration didn't particularly agree. Others in the administration said, `Yes, we should do it,' and some of our colleagues did not agree with it. There has been a give and take, but real progress has been made.

Many of these items have addressed the concerns that have been cited by opponents as reasons to oppose the CWC last year. I have gone over some of the letters, some of the memos I have received--and I have received a lot of them--and point by point has been addressed, maybe not 100 percent, maybe not to their total satisfaction, but progress has been made. I will not go down the whole list of 28, but I want to list some of the more critical ones where real progress has been made.

First, on search and seizure, condition 28 requires search warrants for all involuntary searches of American facilities. We were worried about a constitutional problem here. Now it has been addressed.

Second, on our ability to use riot control agents, condition 26 ensures that the U.S. policy since 1975 remains in effect. Our military can use nonlethal agents, such as tear gas, to rescue downed pilots. Certainly, that should have been in there all along. I don't know why there was resistance to it, but it has been addressed.

Third, on intelligence sharing, condition 5 places strict limits on all U.S. intelligence shared with the international

organization established under the CWC.

Fourth, on maintaining robust chemical defenses, condition 11 mandates a series of steps including negotiations with our allies, planning for chemical weapons in war game scenarios and high-level leadership of the U.S. Army's Chemical School.

Fifth, on information sharing, an area that has worried me the most and right up until this very moment, progress has been made in two ways. First, with regard to these articles X and XI, condition 7 makes crystal clear that nothing in the CWC undermines U.S. export control laws, and that the informal Australia Group export controls will continue. Condition 15 helps to ensure that defensive assistance under the convention will be strictly limited. So I invite my colleagues who may still have some doubts to look at these conditions--conditions 7 and 15--dealing with information sharing and how we have restrictions on the defensive assistance.

Sixth, on financing Russian implementation, which I think is a ridiculous idea personally on its face, but condition 14 precludes the United States from making any commitment to finance Russia's chemical weapons destruction program in an effort to secure Russian ratification of CWC.

Seventh, conditions 1, 17, 6, and 20 preserve Senate prerogatives in this and in future treaties. They preserve our right to pass reservations to treaties, to ratify future amendments to the CWC and to make clear the executive branch cannot commit to appropriations in advance of congressional action.

Eighth, on noncompliance, condition 13 requires a series of steps to be taken by the United States in the event of noncompliance by a party to the convention. Condition 13 mandates unilateral actions and requires the United States to seek a series of multilateral actions to deal with CWC violations.

Ninth, conditions 3 and 22 address financial concerns about the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons set up under this convention. One sets a binding limit on the U.S. assessment to ensure we are not creating another international entitlement program, and the other requires an independent inspector general be created to increase accountability of the OPCW.

Finally, condition 10 requires an annual report of condition that, for the first time in arms control, shifts the burden of proof to making the administration certify compliance. As previous experience has demonstrated, the arms control bureaucracy has refused to find clear evidence of noncompliance. This condition will change and will ensure our vigilance on monitoring issues.

Each of these conditions makes the resolution before us today a better document, there is no doubt about it, certainly better than the document we were considering last fall. Each of these changes addresses concerns raised by treaty opponents last year and addresses my own concerns. In addition, the Senate is considering this convention in a manner agreed to by all 100 Senators. We first considered, and passed, as I said earlier, S. 495, the Chemical and Biological Weapons Threat Reduction Act of 1997 sponsored by Senator Kyl. We are considering the resolution of ratification drafted by Senator Helms. Think about that. We are considering that resolution that he drafted and that he had in the committee. That is what we brought to the floor, and the process requires that motions to strike be offered to take provisions out. Much progress has been made, and many Senators have been cooperative.

But there should be no mistake, serious problems remain with this convention. Unfortunately, key protections in the resolution of ratification may be stricken out in our debate today, and we will have some more votes in a few minutes.

Condition 33 on verification requires the President to certify the same standard of verification developed under the Reagan-Bush administrations--high confidence in detecting militarily significant violations in a timely manner. Detecting the production and stockpiling of chemical weapons may be more difficult than detecting the existence, obviously, of nuclear-armed warheads.

But I will vote to retain the verification standard that has served our country well in previous arms control agreements. I understand why my colleagues might not agree with that and they might vote in a way that would lower this verification standard, but it is a serious problem.

Condition 30, which we just voted on, I think should have been kept in the document.

Condition 29 conditions U.S. participation in the convention upon demonstrated actions by the country with the largest chemical weapons arsenal on Earth--Russia. Russia has not implemented the Bilateral Destruction Agreement signed in 1990. Russia has not submitted accurate data on chemical weapons. That is a real concern, and we have reason to believe they are devoting resources now to develop new chemical agents which are outside the scope of CWC. I support retaining this condition because I believe it makes sense to expect Russia to live up to past agreements before entering into new ones.

I strongly support condition 31 which would require the President to exercise the power given in the verification annex to the convention to bar inspectors from terrorist states and from states which have violated U.S. proliferation law, particularly, I hope and think that we can defeat the motion to strike here. It is not a killer amendment and we ought to retain the right to bar those inspectors.

Finally, there is the most serious question of articles X and XI, whether these provisions on information sharing will increase the likelihood of, in fact, chemical weapons proliferation. Over the past few weeks, I made it clear to the administration as best I could the legitimate concerns about the impact of articles X and XI had to be addressed more than what was in the condition. I support delaying our ratification until the CWC is renegotiated to deal with these articles. For obvious reasons, the administration does not want to do that, and probably the majority of the Senate would not want to do that.

But this very morning, I received a letter from President Clinton which I think is significant. The President made specific assurances that the United States would exercise its right to withdraw from the convention if any one of three things occurred: If countries used `article X to justify providing defensive chemical weapons equipment, material, or information to another state party that could result in U.S. chemical protective equipment being compromised. . .';

If countries use article XI to justify chemical transfers which undermine the Australia Group.

If countries carried `out transfers or exchanges under either article X and XI which jeopardize U.S. national security by promoting chemical weapons proliferation;

These are specific and probably unprecedented. Yes, it is a letter. It is not in the document, but it is signed by the President of the United States in very strong language that, frankly, I was pleased but somewhat surprised that he agreed to say, I will withdraw after consultation with the Senate. If any one of these things happen, he is the President and his assurances in foreign policy must make a difference. They address countries even justifying transfers where there is concern. They address transfers which promote chemical weapons proliferation.

Mr. President, I think this is a very important document. I have made that letter available to our colleagues. I have more copies.

Every Member has struggled with one fundamental question: Are we better off with or without this convention? In my mind, there is no easy answer. I want to know that my children and our country will be better off, and that we will be better able to deal with chemical weapons with it, but I have my doubts.

Experts, whose opinions I respect deeply, are divided on the question. Over the last 2 weeks, I have had many conversations to discuss this convention. I spoke with Presidents Bush and Ford. I talked with my good friend, former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Cap Weinberger, Steve Forbes, former Secretary of State James Baker, Jim Schlesinger, Colin Powell, uniformed military officers--a great variety of people. I met with leaders of groups that are deeply opposed and well informed about the treaty's flaws. I talked with President Clinton, Secretary Albright, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Shalikashvili.

Republican Senators, with long experience in national security matters, are divided. On this issue, reasonable people can and do disagree, and reasonable people will vote on opposite sides.

After our negotiations, hearings, and discussions, it is time to make decisions--decisions that will be important to the future of our men and women in uniform, and the future security of our country.

I have decided to vote in support of the Senate giving its advice and consent to the Chemical Weapons Convention. I will do so not because I believe it will end the threat posed by chemical weapons or rid the world of poison gas. I will do so not because I believe this treaty is verifiable enough or even enforceable enough. And I will not do so because I believe there are no additional proliferations concerns related to articles X and XI.

I will vote for the convention because I believe there will be real and lasting consequences to the United States if we do not ratify the convention. In a very real sense, the credibility of commitments made by two Presidents of our country--one Republican and one Democrat--is at stake.

I will vote for the convention because the judgment of the most senior former and current military commanders believe it will make our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines more safe in potential battlefields and less likely to face the horrible prospect of chemical weapons.

I will vote for the convention because I believe the United States is marginally better off with it than without it. It will provide new tools to press signatories for compliance. It will enable us to gain access to sites and information we are currently unable to examine.

Through the important and enlightening debate we have had over the past few months, I am convinced the convention will bring new focus and energy to this administration's nonproliferation efforts. We have certainly heightened the awareness and knowledge of the concerns we have. One year ago, few of us even knew about the Australia Group. Now we have committed ourselves and the administration to keeping the Australia Group as a viable tool to limit access to chemicals and technology.

Yes, the CWC may give legal cover to proliferators in Teheran or in Beijing. But they have undertaken such efforts in the past and no doubt will do it again in the future.

I believe our allies in Europe are more likely to join with us in isolating Iran if we are a party to this convention than if we reject it tonight. They have made it clear that they hope we will ratify it, whether it is Canada or whether it is Britain or our European allies or Japan.

I believe this convention will increase the cost of covert chemical weapons programs, and it will increase our chances of detecting such programs.

I think there is a long list of good reasons why we should do this today. I have struggled with it. I would like to take just a minute, if I can, to talk on a personal note.

Many people in the media have tended to say, well, you know, this is going to determine the fate of various and sundry Senators and tell a lot about leadership. It has been exaggerated.

I have talked to a lot of Senators one on one. Not one of them--not one of them--has said that they would vote on it on any basis other than what is best for our country.

The way the Senate works, we debate these issues--we read, we study, we argue, we go back and forth. We set up a fair process, and then we come to a conclusion. We make a decision. We vote on it. And I do not think it is fair to exaggerate any one Senator's role in this whole effort.

I think the Senate should be complimented today for the way it has handled this. I think that Madison, and others, placed their faith in this institution. And I think it has worked well.

The efforts of Senator Helms and Senator Kyl have been heroic. They have done a magnificent job. Others that have supported the convention have done their part, too.

I think that this process has helped the Senate as an institution to exercise the leadership assigned to it by the Constitution. And that, I submit, is the only real test of leadership that truly matters.

I urge the adoption and ratification of this treaty.

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