Control Chemical Arms

Article excerpt

The Chemical Weapons Convention, an international agreement to ban the production and stockpiling of chemical agents designed for war, has languished in the United States Senate for a little more than 3-1/2 years, awaiting ratification.

On Sept. 13, the CWC is scheduled to come to a vote in the Senate, and the outlook for garnering the needed two-thirds majority is uncertain. Why are some American legislators wary of an agreement that has near universal approval in the rest of the world?

The answer provided by opponents of the treaty typically centers around the intrusive nature of the CWC's verification system. Moreover, they say, the worst chemical proliferators - Libya, Iraq, and North Korea, for instance - won't sign the pact in any case. The intrusiveness argument, which predicts the widespread dispersal of industry secrets, is undercut by American chemical producers themselves. The industry's largest trade organization, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, is a strong proponent of the chemical weapons treaty. It helped devise the verification procedures - which are, in fact, extraordinarily demanding. …

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