WASHINGTON (April 15, 1997) -- Failure by the United States Senate to ratify an international agreement banning chemical weapons "will diminish the moral credibility of the United States around the world," according the Chairman of the International Policy Committee of the U.S. Catholic Conference.
In a letter to all 100 U.S. Senators, Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark (NJ) urged ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention before April 29, the date it goes into effect. While the United States could ratify the agreement after that deadline, a delay would mean that the U.S. would be prevented from active participation in the critical initial phase of implementing the treaty.
"The military value of these weapons is limited, while their indiscriminate effects are clear," Archbishop McCarrick said. "They are immoral weapons that are unworthy of humanity."
The Chemical Weapons Convention, when ratified, requires the destruction of all existing chemical weapons stockpiles and chemical weapons production facilities within 10 years; prohibits the export of dual-use chemicals to countries which have not ratified the Convention; and requires ratifying nations to enact legislation which criminalizes civilian violations of the Convention, among other provisions.
Political disagreements have stalled the ratification process, and Archbishop McCarrick acknowledged in his letter that while "no arms control measure is perfect ... more attention should be given the consequences of the failure of the Senate to consent to ratification."