Passing the Chemical Weapons Convention Is in America's Best Interest

Article excerpt

Once again, Frank Gaffney Jr.'s commentary paints a false portrait of the Chemical Weapons Convention now before the Senate while missing the big picture ("Clinton's chemical weapons power play," Jan. 14). This treaty is about other people's weapons, not our own. The United States decided unilaterally more than a decade ago to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal. So the only question today is whether to require other nations to do the same.

The treaty will give us tools to deal with at least 20 countries - many hostile to us - that have or seek chemical weapons. Tough new trade controls will make it harder for rogue states and terrorists to get their hands on the ingredients to cook up poison gas. Today, there is no international law making it illegal for countries such as Libya and Iran to make or keep chemical weapons stockpiles. Mr. Gaffney would like to keep such a law off the books because he claims the treaty adds to our proliferation concerns.

Mr. Gaffney also claims the treaty obliges us to provide information useful to other countries' chemical weapons programs. Not true. The treaty's objective is to ban chemical weapons. It compels members not to assist or encourage anyone who seeks to violate its provisions. This obligation overrides any requirement to facilitate trade of technical cooperation whenever there is a chemical weapons proliferation concern. Members also preserve the right to maintain or impose export controls for foreign policy or security reasons. …