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Russia Outlaws Chemical Weapons

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 1997 – Six months after the United States outlawed chemical weapons, Russia is following suit.

President Clinton hailed Russian President Boris Yeltsin and other Russian leaders Nov. 5 for ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention. "Russia's action today is an important step forward in achieving mutual arms control objectives," Clinton wrote in a White House press release.

To date, 104 countries have ratified the agreement, which bans the development, production, possession and use of chemical weapons, Clinton said.

The landmark agreement "is already proving its value in enhancing international security," he said. "Russia's ratification makes it possible for Russia to join the United States in playing a leadership role in ensuring that all of the convention's benefits are realized."

The United States ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in April. At the time, former defense secretaries William Perry, Harold Brown and Elliot Richardson, and several former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and service chiefs of staff said the agreement would contribute to the safety of U.S. armed forces.

"This convention enjoins the world community to forgo an entire class of weapons of mass destruction," said Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs. "It implements a regime of enforcement to include rigorous inspections, and it impairs the ability of those outside the convention to obtain materials to make chemical weapons. Simply stated, the [convention] will greatly reduce the likelihood that our troops and citizens will face chemical weapons in the future."

Since Congress had already directed U.S. military officials to begin destroying chemical weapon stockpiles, he said, the agreement leveled the playing field, requiring other states to do the same under very strict international controls.

"We do not need chemical weapons to provide an effective deterrent," Shalikashvili said. "Deterrence is based on a defensive capability and on an ability to rapidly deliver an overwhelming and devastating response. We have both of those capabilities."

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