Page images



Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate this opportunity to made known to you my views with regard to the need for ratification of the Geneva Protocol of 1925. I share what I believe to be the concern of many of the Members that this Protocol, resubmitted by the President to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification and referred to your committee in August 1970, has not yet been acted upon. In addition, the 1972 Convention of Biological Weapons, which is intimately associated with the Geneva Protocol, also awaits the recommendations of this committee.

As I believe most of you are aware, I first became involved in the issue of U.S. Chemical and biological warfare programs early in the first session of this Congress when potential public health problems concerning the destruction of stockpiles of chemical weapons were brought to my attention. During my involvement in that matter, and I was particularly concerned because there are large chemical agent storage and test areas in my district, I became aware of the larger debates on policy matters associated with this unique weapon system. As I investigated this country's policies on the use of chemical weapons, I became quite disturbed at what appeared to me to be significant inconsistencies between this Nation's overt actions and the policies which the Executive professed to support.

By analysis prompted me to introduce several bills which were specifically intended to provide the House with an opportunity to examine these issues and to express it's opinion with regard to the need for ratification of the Geneva Protocol and for the resolution of the disagreements on the Executive position on herbicides and tear gas which appeared to be the major factor blocking your considerations on advice and consent. I was greatly encouraged in my efforts when the Subcommittee on National Security Policy and Scientific Developments of the Foreign Affairs Committee, to which my bills were referred, saw fit to undertake extensive hearings on these issues. I was immensely gratified that the Foreign Affairs Committee agreed with my proposals and recommended adoption of the resolution as amended in H.Res. 1258. The Members of the House in turn agreed that this critical issue should be resolved and passed the bill which I and several co-sponsers had submitted. Thus, we have indicated our support of your current hearings.

I have great hopes that my efforts will have served to assist the Congress in reaching an acceptable position on the Geneva Protocol, and that the Protocol can indeed be ratified in the rear future. Personally, I am of the opinion that the Protocol should be ratified without any reservations with regard to the use of herbicides and riot control agents. It seems to me, after detailed examination of much expert testimony on this problem as presented during the recent House Foreign Affairs Committee hearings as well as in your own report of hearings in 1971, that any reservations to the Protocol (aside from the standard reservation of the right to retaliate if attacked first with chemical agents) would only serve to confuse the international interpretations of the legal status of the Protocol. Of course, a final judgment on this point can only be made in this Committee as you consider the new position statements which are presented by the Executive witnesses.

I readily acknowledge that treaties such as the Geneva Protocol of 1925 and the 1972 Convention on Biological Weapons are difficult to enforce. But this same statement can be made of any treaty. All of these treaties are simply an indication of the ratifying nation's attempts to avoid the use of certain weapons and, ultimately, war altogether. However, it seems to me that this Nation is now in an (69)

extremely poor negotiating position at the Geneva conferences on chemical warfare primarily because we have failed to move expeditiously on the Geneva Protocol. It is hard to bargain with other nations for additional controls on chemical weapons when these other nations have already ratified the Geneva Protocol and our own negotiators are placed in the embarrassing position of representing one of the few nations of the world which has not ratified an existing treaty on this subject.

This Nation's position at the moment, as announced by the Executive, is that we do not intend to initiate chemical warfare or to engage in any form of offensive biological warfare yet, at the same time, we are engaged in efforts to modernize our chemical weapons systems and we seem to be extremely reluctant to proceed toward ratification of two treaties which contain the very provisions which we have publically embraced. This is a position which obviously arouses suspicion. The argument that the Protocol should not be ratified without an "understanding" that we reserve the right to use herbicides and riot control agents in warfare, even though limited to certain poorly defined circumstances, it seems to me simply establishes the basis for a weakening of the enforcement of the Protocol.

I believe that I am as firm an advocate of the need to maintain the security of this great Nation of ours as any other Member of Congress. I am equally firm in my convictions, however, that we must do everything in our power, as a major member of the world community, to contribute toward peace and tranquillity in the world. I cannot see how ratification of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the Geneva Protocol, without any reservations on herbicides and riot control agents, will adversely affect the security of our Nation. On the other hand, I have a concern that further progress toward even more effective control over these weapons may be seriously handicapped if we fail to take these two very important steps.

I have expressed my opinions concerning the need for total reexamination of the place of chemical weapons in our arsenal on other occasions and I do not wish to take the time of the committee to reiterate these statements at this time, I do believe that your hearings will also contribute a data base which will be useful in the Congress on this related issue.

In closing, I would like to express the hope that my remarks will be useful to your committee in your considerations. Your task at this time has many implications for other treaty negotiations in the world. The fact that you have proceeded so carefully in your examination of this issue is evidence of your recognition of this significance. You may be sure that I join the other Members in awaiting with great interest your final recommendations with regard to this important issue.



A half century ago, the Geneva Protocol banning chemical and bacteriological warfare came into being. The United States has never joined its over 100 signatories. This Treaty is interpreted by some diplomatic history and by a 1969 80-3 vote of the U.N. General Assembly as prohibiting tear gas and herbicides. Nevertheless, the Administration, according to newspaper reports, plans to try to ratify the Treaty while denying that tear gas and herbicides are covered. It is unwise for all concerned for a signatory to sign a treaty while disagreeing with the other signatories about what the treaty means; for example, other signers may denounce the Treaty or take out understandings or reservations themselves. Thus our position threatens the effectiveness of the Treaty.

True, the Administration would suggest that its policy would be to restrict such uses to a minimum. But such national policy can change. Thus the Administration's position is one of temporizing.

True, the conditions under which the Administration would permit use seem innocuous including the protection of downed fliers and innocent civilians. But it was just such loopholes that led to the enormous use in Vietnam; use which went far beyond the guidelines once it started; use which the Congress, during the entire war, could not stop. And if the Administration does not expect this same enlarging of guidelines to occur in future, why does it insist on maintaining the position that unlimited use of tear gas and herbicides are nermitted by the Treaty? In short, the Administration is maintaining the option to make the same mistake twice.

There is no reason to become a signatory of the Treaty in this way. In due course, an enlightened Administration will ratify the Treaty without making these unnecessary and unwise concessions to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We have waited for 50 years and we can wait a few more. The United States is not, after all, about to use poison gas or biological warefare.

We respect the desire of the Foreign Relations Committee to review this matter at this time. And we understand the natural desire of the Administration arms controllers to push this matter through to conclusion even if compromises are necessary. But in historical perspective-the perspective to which the Senate should rise the Administration's position cannot be justified.

When this matter came up in 1971, we called these understandings about tear gas and herbicides: "highly questionable legally, absured politically, repugnant morally, and foolish strategically." We continue to take this view. But we add to it now, the conclusion that this present Adiministration position: "threatens the Treaty, embrrasses the United States, temporizes with regard to U.S. policy, and maintains the option to repeat past mistakes, all for no real purpose". No good can come of this, and we would urge the rejection of proposals to ratify the Treaty at these costs.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


JAN 1 5 1975


[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »