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U.S. and Soviets Reportedly Agree on Plan to Ban Chemical Weapons

From Associated Press

The United States and the Soviet Union have reached agreement on key elements of a treaty banning chemical weapons, including a timetable for destroying them and procedures for inspecting chemical factories, according to the New York Times.

The newspaper, citing Bush Administration officials, said in today’s editions that the superpowers’ recommendations will be submitted to the 40-nation Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

A State Department official told the newspaper that the two sides have agreed in principle on “a mathematical formula” prescribing the amounts and types of chemical weapons to be destroyed over a 10-year period.

They also reportedly agreed on procedures for highly intrusive surprise inspections at sites where one country suspects the other of cheating.

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The draft treaty would ban the development, production, possession and transfer of chemical weapons.

The Geneva Protocol of 1925, adopted after poison gas in World War I produced 1.3 million casualties, prohibits the use of chemical weapons, but not their manufacture or stockpiling.

Under the U.S.-Soviet agreement, some chemical weapons and production equipment would be destroyed annually, but each country could retain some weapons to protect itself until the end of the 10-year transition period.

If it is ratified, the new agreement could curtail the spread of chemical weapons by making it more difficult for Third World nations like Libya and Iraq--prime suspects in the use or manufacture of such weapons--to obtain them, the newspaper reported.

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The United States and the Soviet Union also agreed to a comprehensive exchange of data on chemical weapons, including sites for their production and storage, said James H. Granger, the deputy head of the U.S. delegation to the Geneva conference.


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