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The Chemical Weapons Convention: Strategic Implications for the United States

Authored by Mr. Frederick J. Vogel. | January 1997

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On January 13, 1993, in Paris, 130 countries signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), a landmark treaty which will ban the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention and direct or indirect transfer of chemical weapons.1 On November 23, 1993, President Clinton submitted the treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent, with a call for the Senate to move expeditiously to ratify the convention.2

However, since submission of the convention and despite intensive administration action to achieve the requisite advice and consent, the treaty has languished in committee under three separate sessions of Congress. The CWC, for which the United States has been one of the principal proponents, has been the subject of some considerable controversy. The debate continues on the strategic implications of the Chemical Weapons Convention, as drafted, and whether it is in the national security interest. The author concludes that, although imperfect, the CWC represents a significant contribution to U.S. security objectives, and therefore it is in the national interest to proceed with ratification and implementation. However, there are tangible costs and strategic implications for the United States which must be addressed.


1. "Chemical Weapons Convention Signatories/Ratifiers," U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Fact Sheet, August 22, 1995.

2. The White House Statement on President Clinton's submission of the Chemical Weapons Convention to the Senate, by the Press Secretary, November 24, 1993.