Key Players and Profiles

There were a number of Senators, current and former U.S. officials and organizations who took strong positions and played major roles in the process of CWC ratification.

Jesse Helms: Senator Helms (R-North Carolina) was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the time the CWC was being reviewed. Helms made his objections to U.S. ratifications of the treaty known, and ultimately used its tenure in his committee as a bargaining chip. He refused to have the committee act on the convention to release it to the Senate for passage unless his proposals to reorganize the U.S. foreign policy system and reduce the size of the State Department were implemented. Helms rallied Republican support against the CWC, turning the treaty, which had been negotiated and signed with bipartisan support, into a bitterly partisan issue.

Trent Lott: Senator Lott (R-Mississippi) succeeded Bob Dole as Senate Majority Leader in the summer of 1996 when Dole left the Senate to run for President. Lott, a Republican having previously expressed concern about U.S. ratification of the CWC, received immense pressure from the second term Clinton Administration to convince Senator Helms to release the treaty from the Foreign Relations Committee and bring it to the Senate floor for a vote. In the end Helms allowed the treaty to leave his committee and Lott announced that the modified version of the bill would have his support during the vote on April 24, 1997.

Bob Dole: Dole was the Senate Majority Leader until June of 1996 when he left to become the Republican candidate in the presidential election in the fall of 1996. Dole had previously been supportive of U.S. ratification of the CWC, but in September 1996 he joined the new Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Jesse Helms in expressing his opposition to the treaty. Dole’s decision forced the Clinton Administration of postpone the Senate vote on CWC ratification. With both the Republican Presidential nominee and the Senate Majority Leader against ratification, the 2/3 vote needed to pass the CWC could not be guaranteed and the Clinton Administration did not want to face the possibility of the prized treaty being rejected in the midst of the election campaign. However, on April 23, 1997, the day before the Senate was scheduled to vote on the CWC, Dole changed his position and announced his support once again for U.S. ratification.

George H.W. Bush: President Bush was a proponent of ridding the world of chemical weapons. During his time as president he completed the negotiation of the CWC text begun under President Reagan. Bush unilaterally committed the U.S. not to use chemical weapons and to begin destruction of its stockpiles. On Jan 13, 1993, in the final days of his presidency, Bush signed the CWC and remained a supporter of the treaty throughout the 1996 and 1997 push for U.S. ratification.

Bill Clinton: Clinton became President of the U.S. shortly after President Bush signed the CWC, and remained president through its ratification. Prior to his re-election in 1996, Clinton allowed a vote on the CWC to be postponed because both the Republican nominee and the Senate Majority Leader were opposed to ratification and his Administration was not sure they could get the 2/3 vote necessary to pass it. Following the election, Clinton pushed CWC ratification, rallying key members of the government to speak out in favor of it. He also hosted a public event April 4, 1997 at the White House to and invited prominent Democrat and Republican supporters of the CWC to speak. Clinton met with and put pressure on Senators Lott and Helms to bring the CWC to the Senate floor for a vote before its entry into force April 29, 1997.

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List of Endorsers:

  Chemical Manufacturers Association
  Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association
  151 Chemist and Biochemist members of the National Academy of Sciences
  Madeleine K. Albright, Secretary of State
  James Baker, former Secretary of State
  Senator Joseph Biden
  Harold Brown, former Secretary of Defense
  George H.W. Bush, Former President of the U.S.
  Warren Christopher, former Secretary of State
  William Jefferson Clinton, President of the U.S.
  William Cohen, Secretary of Defense
  Admiral William Crowe, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  John Deutch, former Director of Central Intelligence
  Lawrence S. Eagleburger, former Secretary of State
  General David Jones, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  David Kay, chief U.N. weapons inspector
  Ronald F. Lehman, former Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  Senator Carl Levin
  Senator Richard Lugar
  Senator John McCain
  William Perry, former Secretary of Defense
  General Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  Janet Reno, Attorney General
  Elliot Richardson, former Secretary of Defense
  General Norman Schwartzkopf
  General Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor
  General John Shalishkavili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  Senator Ted Stevens
  George Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence
  General John Vessey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  Senator Jim Warner
  Frederick L. Webber, President of the Chemical Manufacturers Association
  R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence
  Admiral E.R. Zumwalt, Member, President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board

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List of Opponents:

  Richard Cheney, former Secretary of Defense
  William P. Clark, former National Security Advisor
  Douglas Feith, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiation Policy
  Steve Forbes, President and Editor-in-chief, Forbes
  Frank Gaffney Jr., President and Founder of the Center for Security Policy
  Senator Jesse Helms, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
  Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N.
  Charles Kruathammer, The New Republic
  Senator John Kyl
  John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy
  Richard Perle, former Assistant Secretary of Defense
  Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense
  James R. Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense
  Senator Strom Thurmond
  Caspar Weinberger, former Secretary of Defense

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The Stimson Center’s Biological and Chemical Weapons Program has a more complete list of individuals, organizations, and newspapers endorsing or opposing CWC ratification.

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