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Senate Urged to Ratify Chemical Arms Ban : Warfare: Scientists, business leaders and officials sign ad warning of risks of stalling. Letter from Sen. Helms on delaying measure is cited.

November 05, 1995| From Reuters

NEW YORK — A group of scientists, business leaders and retired military and government figures urged the Senate on Saturday to ratify a ban on chemical weapons.

"Getting rid of these heinous weapons should be a priority, and Senate ratification cannot come quickly enough," they said in an advertisement printed in the New York Times.

Among the 64 signers of the ad were William E. Colby, a former director of central intelligence, and eight Nobel laureates.

The ad said the chemical weapons treaty has been signed by 159 nations and backed by the George Bush and Clinton administrations but has been awaiting Senate action for a year.

The ad said a large majority of senators of both parties back the treaty, adding: "We strongly urge the Senate leadership to put the chemical weapons convention to a vote. Now."

They pointed out that poison gas released in the Tokyo subway earlier this year killed 12 people and injured 5,500.

"Can it happen here? Yes, of course," the ad said, but "an important effort to reduce the chances of such attacks is being stalled in the U.S. Senate."

The signers released a letter to President Clinton from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), saying his panel would not act on the treaty until there were assurances that trafficking in chemical weapons could be stopped.

The North Carolina Republican cited charges that a former Soviet chemical weapons negotiator had been arrested for selling chemical agents to Middle East terrorists.

"Many of us have consistently raised concerns regarding the verifiability and enforceability of the Chemical Weapons Convention," Helms said.

He said that unless and until the concerns were resolved, "it would not be fair to the security and safety of the American people even to consider moving the Chemical Weapons Convention out of committee."

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