Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, has reintroduced a bill to punish companies and countries that help spread chemical weapons.
Garn's bill would impose U.S. trade sanctions for at least a year against foreign companies that knowingly help spread chemical arms and have not been punished by their own governments and against countries that use chemical weapons."The barrage of frightening images we see daily on our television news screens of people scurrying for cover and donning gas masks for protection from these lethal, inhumane weapons should be reason enough for enacting this kind of legislation," Garn said.
Bush vetoed an identical bill that Garn shepherded through Congress last year, saying it put too many limits on presidential discretion to waive trade sanctions if needed to improve national security.
But Garn said the bill allows the president to waive sanctions after a year, and added, "Congress and the administration share the goal of stopping the spread of chemical arms.
"While the president feels mandatory sanctions would tie his hands and be unsavory for diplomatic relations, our track record with discretionary sanctions has proven ineffective. Current U.S. policy clearly represents a weaker stand against proliferation and must be tightened in order to address this increasing threat."
Garn added, "This bill is critical in responding to the dangerous proliferation of chemical weapons throughout the world. A company assisting chemical weapons proliferation, or a country like Iraq that uses chemical weapons, should never be allowed to escape punishment."
Besides chemical weapons sanctions, Garn's bill would also make it easier to export some high technology to Eastern Europe.
"These new rules for technology transfer take into consideration the new fledgling democracies in Eastern Europe and allow U.S. exporters to transfer the basic technologies to these countries need in order to further their development," Garn said.