[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1996, Book II)]
[September 7, 1996]
[Pages 1504-1506]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
September 7, 1996

    Good morning. Let me begin by saying our thoughts and prayers are 
with those in the Southeastern part of our Nation who have been affected 
by Hurricane Fran. Our FEMA Direc-

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tor, James Lee Witt, and other officials from our administration are in 
the region, and we'll do everything we can to help the people build back 
from this terrible storm.
    This week our Nation's Armed Forces once again have shown their 
extraordinary skill and strength, this time in a critical mission in 
Iraq. I ordered our military to take strong action after Saddam Hussein, 
in the face of clear warnings from the international community, attacked 
and seized the Kurdish controlled city of Irbil in northern Iraq. Our 
missile strikes against Saddam's air defense sites in southern Iraq made 
it possible for us to expand the no-fly zone that has been in place over 
southern Iraq, the staging ground for the Kuwait invasion in 1990, and 
the area where Saddam massed his troops and menaced Kuwait again in 
    We have denied Saddam control of the skies from the suburbs of 
Baghdad to the Kuwaiti border. Our action has reduced his ability to 
strike out against his neighbors and increased our ability to prevent 
future acts of violence and aggression. As a result of our efforts, 
Saddam is now strategically worse off than he was before he crossed the 
lines imposed by the international community.
    Once more, we have seen that at home and abroad our service men and 
women go the extra mile for us. And we must go the extra mile for them. 
Today I am announcing that I intend to sign the defense authorization 
bill for 1997 now before the Congress. This bill makes good on our 
pledge to give our Armed Forces the finest equipment there is so that 
they have the technological edge to prevail on the battlefields of 
tomorrow. It also carries forward our commitment to give our troops the 
quality of life they deserve by funding family and troop housing 
improvements that we want and by providing a raise of 3 percent, nearly 
one percent beyond what the law automatically provides now.
    The dangers our troops face every day underscore the importance of 
continuing our work against the forces of destruction. In particular, we 
must redouble our efforts to stop the spread of weapons of mass 
destruction, including chemical weapons such as those that Iraq and 
other rogue nations have developed. This effort has taken on new urgency 
now that terrorists can also turn to chemical weapons, whose terrible 
impact we saw in the sarin gas attack last year in the Tokyo subway.
    In the week to come, the Senate faces an historic opportunity to 
take chemical weapons out of military arsenals and help keep them out of 
the hands of terrorists. The Senate will vote on ratification of the 
Chemical Weapons Convention. By voting for this treaty, the Senate can 
help to banish poison gas from the Earth and make America's citizens and 
soldiers much more secure.
    The convention requires all who sign it to destroy their chemical 
weapons stockpiles and to forswear ever developing, producing, or 
acquiring chemical weapons. It will dramatically reduce the chance of 
American troops facing such weapons on the battlefield, which is why our 
military leaders strongly support the treaty. What's more, the treaty 
provides a strong system of verification, including inspections of 
suspicious facilities on short notice.
    I ask the leaders of both parties in Congress to pull together and 
pass this treaty. It will make life tougher for rogue states like Iraq. 
Those few nations that refuse to sign will find themselves increasingly 
isolated. Tough new trade controls will prohibit anyone from selling 
them ingredients for chemical weapons, making it more difficult for them 
to build the weapons.
    The treaty will increase the safety of our citizens at home as well 
as our troops in the field. The destruction of current stockpiles, 
including at least 40,000 tons of poison gas in Russia alone, will put 
the largest potential sources of chemical weapons out of the reach of 
terrorists. And the trade controls will deny terrorists easy access to 
the ingredients they seek.
    Of course, these controls can never be perfect. But the convention 
will give us new and vital tools for preventing a terrorist attack 
involving chemical weapons. By tying the United States into a global 
verification network and strengthening our intelligence sharing with the 
international community, this treaty can be an early warning that is 
essential for combating terrorism.
    Congressional action on the Chemical Weapons Convention will also 
strengthen the hand of our law enforcement officials while protecting 
our civil liberties. Right now we have a limited ability to investigate 
people suspected of planning a chemical attack. Today, for example, 
there is no Federal law on the books prohibiting someone from actually 
cooking up poison gas. The legislation that is needed to put the treaty 
into place would change that and give us the

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most powerful tools available to investigate the development, 
production, transfer, or acquisition of chemical weapons, as well as 
their actual use.
    We in America have been very fortunate in never experiencing a 
terrorist attack with chemical weapons. Japan, the only country that has 
suffered such an attack, saw the value of the Chemical Weapons 
Convention instantly. Within one month of the sarin gas attack in Tokyo, 
Japan completed ratification of the convention.
    Let's not wait. For the safety of our troops, and to fight terror 
here and around the globe, the Senate should ratify the Chemical Weapons 
Convention now.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 3:50 p.m. on September 6 at the Church 
Street Station in Orlando, FL, for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on September