White House Statement on the Conference on Chemical Weapons Use


October 21, 1988


French Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament Pierre Morel announced yesterday to the United Nations First Committee in New York that France will host the Conference on Chemical Weapons Use in Paris from January 7 to 11, 1989. The Conference is aimed at focusing worldwide attention on the problems of chemical weapons use and proliferation, and helping to put a stop to the abhorrent illegal use of these weapons.


President Reagan proposed such a conference in his speech at the U.N. on September 26, calling on all concerned nations to consider actions we might take together to reverse the erosion of respect for the existing norms against the illegal use of chemical weapons. Recent expressions of support for the idea of holding this Conference by nations from various regions indicate that many others share our concern. We hope that nations attending the Conference will reaffirm their political commitment to comply with existing prohibitions on chemical weapons use. We also invite those nations which have not done so to adhere to the 1925 Geneva protocol. The purpose of the Conference is neither to change the Geneva protocol in any way nor to single out any country for its previous actions.


The United States remains committed to the negotiation of a comprehensive, effectively verifiable, and truly global ban on chemical weapons. Such a ban would be the best solution to the threat posed by illegal chemical weapons use and proliferation. We hope the participants in the Conference will express their support for the continuing negotiations for a ban at the 40-nation Geneva Conference on Disarmament.


The United States welcomes the action by the Government of France to host the Conference and will make every effort to ensure that it succeeds. Secretary of State Shultz will lead the U.S. delegation to the Conference.