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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 17, 2000


Seventy-five years ago today, June 17, 1925, the international community took a major step toward protecting the world from the dangers of weapons of mass destruction by concluding the Geneva Protocol of 1925. In the aftermath of the terrible casualties caused by poison gas in World War I, the Geneva Protocol banned the use in war of chemical and biological weapons.

More recently, the international community has worked to build on this achievement. The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) banned the development, production and possession of biological and toxin weapons, and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) did the same for chemical weapons. Today, 135 countries are parties to the CWC, and 143 are parties to the BWC. The United States has ratified both agreements, and our commitment to them has enjoyed strong bipartisan support.

Today, one of the greatest threats to American and global security is the danger that adversary nations or terrorist groups will obtain and use chemical or biological weapons. The international agreements we have reached banning these weapons are a critical component of our effort to protect against this threat.

In my 1998 State of the Union address, I called on the international community to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention with a new international inspection system to help detect and deter cheating. Significant progress has been made in Geneva at the Ad Hoc Group of BWC States Parties toward achieving this goal. We urge all participants in this process to work toward the earliest possible conclusion of a BWC Protocol that will further strengthen international security.

On this 75th anniversary of the Geneva Protocol, I call on the countries of the world who have not yet done so to join the Geneva Protocol, CWC and BWC. I call on all parties to strictly adhere to these agreements and to work to strengthen them. It is more urgent than ever that, true to the words of the Geneva Protocol, their prohibitions "shall be universally accepted.... binding alike the conscience and the practice of nations."

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