Every day, step by step, Libya’s lunatic leader, Moammar Kadafi, comes closer and closer to producing chemical weapons and perfecting the means to deliver them over long distances. If he gets there--and he might well, not in years but in months--we’ve got a new and deadly ball game in the Middle East.
And Kadafi is not the only problem. Iraq not only has but has used chemical weapons in its war with Iran. Iran and Syria are hellbent on developing their own chemical weapons capability. And other Third World nations are moving in the same direction.
The evil genie is already out of the bottle. There may still be time to get him back in there, but only if we act now.
We’ve got the right overall policy. Our aim is to eliminate chemical weapons entirely. In fact, we’ve been reducing our own stockpiles of chemical weapons for years. The Soviets have now said they will start destroying theirs, too. I hope so. But let’s make sure this offer is not just a sham, designed to get us to halt production of the newer, safer binary chemical weapons that we have developed to help offset the massive Soviet stockpiles and production lines. We have to make sure the world--allies and adversaries alike--understand this bottom line: The United States is prepared to agree to the destruction of all of our chemical weapons when the Soviets are ready to sign a binding, worldwide, verifiable agreement to ban all such weapons.
But even as we try to negotiate this global ban, more and more nations seek to acquire chemical weapons. We’re trying to stop them by pushing the adoption of a major international agreement to control the export of technology and equipment. We made some progress on that score recently at the Paris conference on chemical weapons. That must remain a top priority. But we also have to face facts: We’re not going to have a good agreement for many months, perhaps years.
We can’t just sit back and wait for that day. We have to act now, with every bit of leverage we have. If Kadafi takes that last step and starts producing chemical weapons, we should make clear our determination to do whatever is necessary to deny him the opportunity to use his deadly new toys.
And we have to do one other thing. According to many reports, Japanese and West European firms, in a sickening pursuit of the almighty dollar, or yen, or Deutsche mark, are helping Kadafi and his crowd produce chemical weapons or develop the means to deliver them. No firm that knowingly engages in that kind of reckless activity deserves the right to profit from the American market. That’s why Sens. Jake Garn, John Heinz and others from both parties have joined me in introducing legislation that states this sound and simple proposition: If you deal with the likes of Kadafi on chemical weapons, you can kiss the American market goodby.
Specifically, the bill requires the President to investigate and report on any firms engaged in such activity, and then bans all such firms from selling their products in America or contracting with our government anywhere in the world for many years.
Do we have the right to take such action? You bet we do. Our security interests, our allies and friends, the lives of American citizens, they’re all at stake.
Do we need to take such action? We have to. If we don’t, who will?
And finally, do we need to act now? We had better. Because one of these tomorrows, it may be too late.