Fmr. Sec of State James Baker defends Reagan and Bush (320K wav)
Sec. of Defense Cohen on US military safety (320K wav)
V.P. Gore on the world's consensus for the Convention (608K wav)
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Albright Visits Helms Country (3/26/97)
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Clinton Urges Senate To Act On Chemical Treaty
Weapons ban due to take effect later this month
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 4) -- With a bipartisan group of Washington's political and military luminaries looking on, President Bill Clinton called on the U.S. Senate to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention by an April 29 deadline. Failing to do so, he said, would jeopardize U.S. national and economic security.(288K wav sound)
"This is, in the beginning, a question of whether we will continue to make America's leadership strong and sure as we chart our course in a new time," Clinton said, with sun pouring down on his audience assembled on the lawn outside the White House. "We have to do that, and we can only do that, if we rise to the challenge of ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention."
Signed by 161 counties and ratified by 70 so far, the treaty bans the acquisition, development, production, trading and stockpiling of chemical weapons. Attempting to build American support, Clinton today thanked his Democratic allies and "a dozen retired generals," while pointedly citing the support of such Republican leaders as former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, retired Gen. Colin Powell and former Secretary of State James Baker, all of whom attended today's event.
"The words that I have spoken today are nothing compared to the presence, to the careers, the experience, the judgment and the patriotism of Republicans and Democrats alike and the military leaders who have gathered here and who all across the country have lent their support to this monumentally important effort," Clinton said. "We must not fail." (320K wav sound)
The treaty, due to take effect April 29 whether or not the U.S. ratifies it, faces opposition from a key senator, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-N.C.). He and other critics contend the measure would be hard to enforce and could hamper legitimate commerce in chemicals.
Attempting to rebut those concerns, Clinton reiterated supporters' arguments that the U.S., if it remains on the outside, would forgo any ability to influence the convention's implementation. And he predicted U.S. companies would face trade restrictions that could cost them millions of dollars in sales.
"Our national security, and I might add, our economic security will suffer," the president said, if senators don't act. "We will be denied use of the treaty's tools against rogue states and terrorists. We will lose the chance to help to enforce the rules we helped to write." (320K wav sound)
Following recent talks with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in his home state, Helms has softened his opposition and has said he will schedule a new round of hearings, and that he will work with the administration to achieve a possible compromise.
Former President George Bush, another supporter of the treaty, was out of the country and could not attend the event.
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