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Public Papers - 1991

White House Statement on Weapons of Mass Destruction

1991-03-07

The United States has taken a major step in its continuing efforts to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction with the issuance of regulations extending export controls over chemicals, equipment, and other assistance that can contribute to the spread of missiles and chemical and biological weapons.

Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, his use of Scud missiles to terrorize civilian populations, and the chilling specter of germ warfare and nuclear weapons have brought home the dangers proliferation poses to American interests and global peace and stability.

Our continuing efforts to stem the spread of weapons of mass destruction will contribute to the construction of a new world order. The new regulations will enhance our ability to head off these dangers so that in the future we will not be forced to confront them militarily as we have in Iraq. At the same time, the new regulations are sensitive to the importance of U.S. exports to our economic vitality and will not unfairly restrict legitimate commerce.

The expanded U.S. export controls apply to equipment, chemicals, and whole plants that can be used to manufacture chemical or biological weapons, as well as to activities of U.S. exporters or citizens when they know or are informed that their efforts will assist in a foreign missile or chemical or biological weapon program.

But the United States cannot do the job alone. Our experience in the Gulf has reinforced the lesson that the most effective export controls are those imposed multilaterally. The administration has therefore initiated vigorous efforts to obtain allied support for chemical and biological weapon export controls in the Australia Group, missile export controls in the Missile Technology Control Regime, and nuclear export controls through consultations with all major nuclear suppliers. These efforts will take advantage of the growing international consensus to redouble our efforts to stem the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction may profoundly challenge our national security in the 1990's. The new regulations issued today and our multilateral initiatives will enhance our ability to meet that challenge squarely.

Note: The statement referred to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and to the Australia Group, a multilateral forum of 20 supplier nations committed to restricting the spread of chemical weapons.

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