Laying Down the Chemical-Arms Sword

Article excerpt

PRESIDENT BUSH and President Gorbachev recently made a momentous decision on chemical arms control and disarmament. At the June 1 Washington summit, they signed an agreement not only to begin destruction of their chemical weapons but also immediately to stop the production of these indiscriminate weapons.

This affirmation of long-standing bipartisan congressional efforts to stop chemical-weapons production and use eliminates the inconsistencies and contradictions that plagued the Reagan administration's policy on chemical weapons. For the first time, Congress has effectively stopped the production and deployment of a major weapons system.

Secretary of State James Baker has accurately described the US-Soviet chemical-weapons ban as "a trailblazing agreement." It gives the superpowers a unified stance on this critical issue. By establishing an unambiguous leadership role for both the US and the Soviet Union at the multilateral chemical-weapons talks in Geneva, it significantly enhances the likelihood of convincing other states to support a worldwide ban on the production and usage of chemical weapons.

This is an unprecedented and unique arms control agreement. It is unprecedented because it provides for US-Soviet cooperation in destroying their respective chemical-weapons stocks. It is unique because both superpowers agree to immediately stopping chemical-weapons production, thereby providing the best hope for a negotiated global ban.

AS the superpowers lay down their chemical swords together, they are challenging all countries to do the same. No more carping and sniping at the superpowers. No more grumbling about past US hypocrisy of wanting to produce new binary chemical weapons while simultaneously expecting others to forswear these weapons. The moment of truth has come when all nations must exert the political will and courage necessary to ban these inhumane weapons once and for all. …