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"A challenge we have is to keep this inexorable march of technology from giving terrorists and potentially hostile nations the means to undermine our defenses. We must meet this threat by making effective agreements to restrain nuclear and missile programs in North Korea... increasing our preparedness against chemical and biological attack... and developing a system to defend against new missile threats -- while working to preserve our ABM missile treaty with Russia. We must do all these things."

President Clinton
State of the Union Address
January 27,1999

President Clinton has led an aggressive effort to reduce the threat to Americans from weapons of mass destruction. Over the past eight years, the Administration has made unprecedented progress in curbing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles that deliver them, in reducing the dangerous legacy of Cold War weapons' stockpiles and in promoting responsible conventional arms transfer policies.


Nuclear Weapons

  • Preventing Nuclear Proliferation in the Former Soviet Union. Obtained the agreement by Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan to allow the removal of all nuclear weapons from their soil and to foreswear such weapons forever. This was a landmark accomplishment in nuclear security -- the first time in history that countries in possession of nuclear weapons agreed to give up them up.
  • Freezing North Korea's Nuclear Program. To obtain a freeze in North Korea's nuclear program, authorized participation in the 1994 U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework, which froze North Korea's plutonium production, put the program under international monitoring and mandated the dismantlement of Pyongyang's plutonium production facilities.
  • Extending the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Played a critical role in 1995 in securing the unconditional and indefinite extension of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- the cornerstone of U.S. efforts to control nuclear proliferation. Under the Clinton Administration's leadership, 29 additional countries have joined the NPT.
  • Strengthening Security of Nuclear Materials. Inaugurated unprecedented, broad-ranging programs at over 100 sites in Russia and the New Independent States to strengthen the security and accounting of nuclear materials and weapons and to prevent their theft or diversion.
  • Safeguarding Weapons-Grade Uranium. Agreed to purchase 500 metric tons of weapons-grade, highly-enriched uranium from Russia for dilution to safer, low-enriched uranium (which is used in commercial power reactors). President Clinton also authorized "Operation Sapphire," in which the United States acquired and airlifted out of Kazakhstan nearly 600 kilograms of highly enriched uranium which was vulnerable to diversion or theft.
  • Disposing of Excess Weapon-Grade Plutonium. Agreed at September 1998 Summit meeting between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin in Moscow to dispose of 34 tons each of weapon-grade plutonium excess to defense needs, a quantity sufficient to build thousands of nuclear warheads. Vice President Gore and Russian Prime Minister Kasyanov signed the implementing agreement in September 2000 that will permit design work to begin.
  • Controlling Nuclear Materials. Promoted broader international participation in both the NPT Exporters' (Zangger) Committee and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which together work to control equipment and materials that can be used to make nuclear weapons. Since 1993, nine additional countries have joined the Zangger Committee, while eight countries joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • Ending Nuclear Testing. Led the international effort to conclude the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). President Clinton was the first world leader to sign this historic agreement. The Treaty has now been signed by 163 countries and ratified by 60. In March 2000, President Clinton appointed General Shalikashvili as Special Advisor for CTBT to conduct a comprehensive review of issues related to ratification. The final report was received in January 2001.

Chemical and Biological Weapons

  • Banning Chemical Weapons. Led international efforts to promote universal adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) which entered into force in 1997. Today, 140 136countries are parties to the CWC.
  • Eliminating Chemical and Biological Weapons Capabilities. Worked, under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, to dismantle former Soviet chemical weapons production facilities in Russia and Uzbekistan and a former Soviet biological weapons production facility in Kazakhstan. Also pressed for U.S. and international assistance to help eliminate the large chemical weapons stockpile Russia inherited from the former Soviet Union.
  • Controlling Chemical and Biological Weapon-Related Material. Successfully promoted the membership of Argentina, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Slovakia, Romania, Poland and South Korea in the Australia Group, which controls chemical and biological weapon-related material.
  • Strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). Was an active player in international efforts to conclude a legally-binding protocol to strengthen compliance with the 1972 treaty outlawing biological weapons. The United States and other BWC parties have agreed to try to complete such a protocol by the November 2001 BWC Review Conference.

Conventional Weapons and Missiles

  • Strengthening the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Strengthened the MTCR guidelines and expanded the membership of the, adding Argentina, Brazil, Hungary, Poland, Iceland, Turkey, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Russia and Ukraine to its rolls.
  • Stemming Chinese Missile Proliferation. Secured important missile nonproliferation commitments from China. In October 1994, China agreed not to transfer ground-to-ground MTCR-class missiles and to abide by the original MTCR guidelines and annex. In November 2000, China took further steps, agreeing not to assist any country in any way in the development of MTCR-class missiles and to enact at the earliest date comprehensive missile-related export controls.
  • Controlling Munitions and Dual-Use Technologies. Led international efforts to create the 33 member Wassenaar Agreement, which seeks to promote the responsible transfers of conventional arms and related technology and to increase transparency of such exports. Through U.S. leadership in Wassenaar, which began operations in April 1996, the United States has been able to limit the flow of arms and sensitive technologies to Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya and other countries.
  • Promoting Strong National Export Controls. Provided legal and technical advice and support to countries in the former Soviet Union for the development and maintenance of effective dual-use and munitions export controls, monitoring of border crossing points and training of customs and enforcement officials.

Regional Security

  • Redirecting Former Soviet Union Weapon Scientists. Helped provide civilian employment for over 30,000 former Soviet weapons scientists on over 1,000 peaceful research projects under the multinational science centers and other nonproliferation assistance program, through threat reduction initiatives and programs.
  • Containing Iran and Iraq. Led the effort to prevent Iraq from resuming its nuclear, chemical, biological weapons programs and its missile development programs. Also pressed Russia and other potential suppliers not to assist Iranian and Iraqi efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.
  • Promoting Stability in South Asia. Pressed both India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to forego destabilizing nuclear and missile activities.


November 2000

China concludes missile nonproliferation agreement with the United States.

Spring 2000

The United States concludes Biological Material Protection, Control and Accounting (BMPC&A) agreements with Obolensk and other former Soviet biological weapons facilities.

May 1999

The United States and Uzbekistan sign an agreement to dismantle the former Soviet chemical weapons production facility at Nukus, Uzbekistan.

January 1999

President Clinton announces Expanded Threat Reduction Program aimed at redirecting former Soviet Weapons of Mass Destruction scientists and facilities.

January 1998

President Clinton announces a major U.S. initiative to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention.

January 1998

The United States and Russia sign agreement for the dismantlement and conversion of former Soviet chemical weapons production facilities at Volgograd and (in January 1999) Novecheboksary.

November 1997

The United States concludes nonproliferation agreement with former Soviet biological weapons R&D facility at Vector; begins to expand nonproliferation cooperation with other former Soviet BW facilities.

April 25, 1997

The United States ratifies Chemical Weapons Convention.

April 23, 1997

President Clinton hosts veterans and military leaders at a White House event on Chemical Weapons Convention ratification.

April 18, 1997

President Clinton calls for ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

April 16, 1997

President Clinton calls for Chemical Weapons Convention ratification in meeting with bipartisan group of Senators.

April 4, 1997

President Clinton hosts a bipartisan event on the South Lawn to help build support for Chemical Weapons Convention ratification.

March 1997

Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin sign Joint Statement on ratification and implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

January 1997

President Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Lott agree to establish a process to address Republican Caucus concerns about the Chemical Weapons Convention.

June 1996

The United States and Kazakhstan agree to cooperate in dismantling the world's largest anthrax production facility, in Stepnogorsk, Kazakhstan.

May 1996

The United States agrees to design and build Russia's first nerve agent destruction facility, in Shchuch'ye, Russia.

November 23, 1993

President Clinton submits the Chemical Weapons Convention to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification.


"Statement by the President on the 75th Anniversary of the Geneva Protocol," June 17, 2000.

"The Biological Weapons Convention," January 27, 1998.

"Remarks by the President After the Vote on Ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention," April 24, 1997.

"Remarks by the President on the Chemical Weapons Convention," April 23, 1997.

"Remarks by President at Chemical Weapons Convention Event," April 4, 1997.

"Joint US-Russian Statement on Chemical Weapons," March 21, 1997.


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