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THE GENEVA PROTOCOL OF 1925
UNITED STATES SENATE
EXECUTIVE J, 91ST CONGRESS, 2D SESSION
OF BACTERIOLOGICAL METHODS OF WARFARE
MARCH 5, 16, 18, 19, 22, AND 26, 1971
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Relations
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1972
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
J. W. FULBRIGHT, Arkansas, Chairman JOHN SPARKMAN, Alabama
GEORGE D. AIKEN, Vermont MIKE MANSFIELD, Montana
KARL E. MUNDT, South Dakota FRANK CHURCH, Idaho
CLIFFORD P. CASE, New Jersey STUART SYMINGTON, Missouri
JOHN SHERMAN COOPER, Kentucky CLAIBORNE PELL, Rhode Island
JACOB K. JAVITS, New York GALE W. McGEE, Wyoming
HUGH SCOTT, Pennsylvania EDMUND S. MUSKIE, Maine
JAMES B. PEARSON, Kansas
CARL MARCY, Chief of Staff
A year and a half ago, in March, 1971, the Committee on Foreign Relations held extensive hearings on the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which the President had resubmitted for the Senate's advice and consent. Following those hearings the Committee expressed to the President its strong support for the objectives of the Protocol but asked the President to reconsider the Administration's interpretation that the Geneva Protocol does not prohibit the use of tear gas and herbicides in warfare.
These views were set forth in a letter which I sent to the President on behalf of the Committee on April 15, 1971. (A copy of this letter appears in the appendix to the hearings on page 432.) In the same letter, the Committee expressed its desire to have available to it before acting on the Protocol several studies then in progress within the Executive Branch relating to the use of herbicides and tear gas in Vietnam and their possible utility in other situations. Our letter also indicated that the Committee would await the President's response before taking further action on the Protocol.
More than 16 months have passed since the Committee wrote to the President. To date we have received no substantive reply. The Committee initially delayed publication of these hearings in the expectation of a response from the Executive Branch which would provide a basis for the resumption of hearings. Because the Committee still has received neither a substantive response to its letter nor any indication that one will be forthcoming, and because the end of the current session of Congress is rapidly approaching, there appears to be no justification for further delay in publishing these hearings.
Since March, 1971, there have been several developments related to the issues raised in the hearings. Despite assurances given by the Secretary of State to the Committee that American military use of herbicides in Vietnam would be phased out, the use of herbicides by American forces has been reduced but not eliminated. Similarly, the use of tear gas, particularly of the potent CS2 form, also continues, both by American and by South Vietnamese forces, the latter being trained and supplied by the Americans. There have also been reports of the use of tear gas by the North Vietnamese, this being the almost inevitable and, indeed, the predicted consequence of our own use of
During this interim period there have also been positive developments relating to the control of chemical and biological weapons. The United States and many other nations have concluded a Convention for the Prohibition of Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons. This treaty was signed in Washington on April 10, 1972, and was submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent on August 10, 1972. In addition, discussion has now begun in the U.N. Conference of the Committee on Disarmament at Geneva regarding a chemical weapons convention.
It is unfortunate that while these efforts have been going forward that the Administration has not demonstrated any interest in removing the cloud which it has placed over the Geneva Protocol by virtue of its interpretation regarding tear gas and herbicides. This inflexi
bility coupled with the fact of our continued use of these agents in Vietnam threatens to undermine the ultimate effectiveness of the new conventions.
The preamble of the Bacteriological Convention reaffirms the significance of the Geneva Protocol as the foundation for subsequent international agreements in this area. Most nations of the world take the view that our use of tear gas and herbicides in Vietnam is contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Protocol. Indeed, the preamble of the Convention specifically notes that the General Assembly "has repeatedly condemned all actions contrary to the principles and objectives” of the Protocol. It is difficult in light of these circumstances to see how the United States adherence to the Convention can be reconciled with the Administration's rejection of the universally accepted interpretation of the Protocol.
In my view it is regrettable that the Executive Branch has ignored the Committee's efforts to resolve the difficulties posed by its interpretation of the Protocol. It is now more important than ever that the Executive Branch come to grips with the question of U.S. adherence to the Protocol in order that this issue not complicate consideration of the Bacteriological Convention.
The Executive Branch studies relating to tear gas and herbicides which the Secretary of State told the Committee were in progress at the time of the 1971 hearings are reported to have been completed. Yet to date none of these studies has been made available to or discussed with the Committee.
Similarly the Executive Branch has ignored the Committee's requests for its comments on two proposals relating to the interpretation of the Geneva Protocol, S. Res, 154 and S. Res. 158, introduced by Senators Humphrey and Brooke in July, 1971. (The texts of these resolutions appear on pages 438 and 436 of the appendix.) While the Committee has not taken a position on these resolutions and could hardly be expected to do so in the face of continued Executive Branch silence, these resolutions do represent constructive efforts to resolve the question of the Protocol's interpretation.
We are hopeful that the appearance of these hearings coupled with the President's submission of the Bacteriological Convention to the Senate will stimulate new interest on the part of the public and the Executive Branch in full U.S. adherence to the Geneva Protocol. It would appear that the only impediment to such progress is the reluctance of the Administration to forego the option to employ tear gas and herbicides in future wars. It is difficult to reconcile this position with our knowledge that their military utility is open to serious question, that their actual use in Vietnam is undermining the restraints inherent in the Geneva Protocol, and that the opprobrium which attaches to their use is nearly universal.
A decision on the part of the Administration to sek ratification of the Geneva Protocol without any special exceptions for the use of herbicides and tear gas in warfare would, in my view, be a constructive act. A renunciation of the option to use these weapons would not adversely affect our national security and, indeed, it would represent the single greatest contribution which our nation could make now to the creation of truly effective and universal barriers against one of the most repugnant of all forms of warfare.
J. W. FULBRIGHT, Chairman. OCTOBER 3, 1972.
Statements by :
of New York at Buffalo---
Bunn, George, professor of law, University of Wisconsin School of
Clark, Hon. Joseph S., president, World Federalists, U.S.A.
gram and Projects, League of Women Voters of the United States--
Galston, Arthur W., professor of biology, Yale University-
Hospital, New York, N.Y---
Biology Department; chairman, Windham College Science Division..
"U.S. Now Uses Tear Gas as Routine War Weapon," article by Ralph
Blumenthal, the New York Times, December 6, 1969_-
Excerpts from transcript of President Nixon's press conference, the
Washington Post, March 5, 1971.--
bright, February 12, 1971.----
Statement of Senator Gaylord Nelson.--