Chemical Treaty a Dangerous Sham

By Charles Krauthammer Washington Post Writers Group | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 16, 1996 | Go to article overview
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Chemical Treaty a Dangerous Sham


Charles Krauthammer Washington Post Writers Group, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


When the Senate prepared to take up final action on the Chemical Weapons Convention last Thursday, advocates of the treaty thought they had the ultimate weapon: emotional blackmail.

Who could vote in an election year against a treaty whose lofty goal is to eradicate chemical weapons from the face of the earth? Amazingly, enough senators to defeat this treaty.

That is why, faced with the prospect of defeat on the floor of the Senate, the Clinton administration pulled the treaty at the last moment. B ut it is not dead by any means. If Bill Clinton wins re-election he will bring it back to the next Congress, where it will deserve to be buried again. Why? Because, while the goal of eradicating chemical weapons is indeed lofty, the treaty that purports to bring it about is a fraud. The fatal problem with the treaty is that it is unverifiable. Sure, it has elaborate inspection procedures and a U.N. bureaucracy to oversee them. No treaty is complete without that nowadays. As a result, the treaty will be perfectly able to detect the development of chemical weapons by free, open governments that have never used and have no intention of using chemical weapons. And the treaty will be perfectly useless at preventing development of chemical weapons by closed societies such as Iran, Iraq (which in 1988 blatantly violated the current treaty banning the use of chemical weapons), Libya, Syria and North Korea. These are precisely the places where chemical weapons are being made today for potential use against the United States or its allies. How can anyone seriously defend this treaty as verifiable when Iraq is going ahead with its chemical (and nuclear and biological) weapons programs right under our noses? When North Korea, signatory and subject to all the fancy inspection provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, went blithely ahead and made nuclear bombs? And these are violations by countries that had submitted to international inspection. Yet we already know that Libya, North Korea and Syria have not agreed to sign the chemical weapons ban and thus will be subject to no chemical weapons inspection at all. Not to worry. The treaty will definitively banish the threat of chemical attack by Belgium. All arms control treaties have problems with verification.

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