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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 17, 1997


Senate Decision to Bring Chemical Weapons Convention to a Vote

I welcome today's unanimous agreement by the Senate to bring the Chemical Weapons Convention to a vote next week. This treaty -- initiated by the Reagan Administration, completed and signed by the Bush Administration, submitted to the Senate by my administration -- has been bipartisan from the beginning. Now, thanks to the good faith efforts of Majority Leader Lott and Minority Leader Daschle -- working closely with my national security team and key members of the Senate from both sides of the aisle -- the Senate will be able to vote on the treaty before it goes into effect on April 29.

Over the past two and a half months, we have all gone the extra mile to work through outstanding concerns about the treaty. As a result of negotiations Senator Lott and I established, and discussions led by Senators Biden and Helms, we now have agreement on 28 conditions that will be included in the treaty's resolution of ratification when it goes to a vote -- resolving virtually all of the issues that have been raised about the CWC.

Just today, our negotiators reached agreement concerning the use of Riot Control Agents like tear gas and to require warrants for any involuntary searches of an American business or facility under the treaty's inspection provisions. We still have five issues on which we fundamentally disagree -- but we are now assured, thanks to today's agreement, that they will be decided by votes of the full Senate.

These important developments reflect widespread, bipartisan and growing support for the Chemical Weapons Convention. Yesterday, former Presidents Bush and Ford joined Secretary of State Albright in making a special appeal for ratification. Today, at a Congressional hearing, former Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell strongly reiterated his endorsement of the treaty -- which also has the support of every other Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the past two decades. And three former Secretaries of Defense -- Harold Brown, Elliot Richardson and Bill Perry -- released a joint statement calling for the Senate to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention.

All of these distinguished American leaders agree that by requiring countries around the world to destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles -- as the United States already has decided to do -- and to renounce developing or trading in chemical weapons in the future, the Chemical Weapons Convention will help make our troops safer while making it harder for rogue states and terrorists to acquire chemical weapons.

This treaty literally was "made in America" and it also is right for America. I urge every member of the Senate to support the Chemical Weapons Convention when it comes to a vote next week.

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