Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, is asking Congress to spend more to ensure the nation could verify an international treaty to ban chemical weapons.
"We should have a chemical weapons ban. But we must first move swiftly to ensure that we can verify one," Owens said.Use of chemical weapons is already banned by treaty, but many nations - including the United States - keep stockpiles to use if they are attacked by such weapons first.
Talks are under way in Geneva, Switzerland, among 40 nations seeking a total chemical weapons ban. But concern over verification is a key problem yet to be resolved. Owens said the United States spends less than $1 million a year developing new verification capabilities.
"In negotiating a treaty, the United States is making decisions about whether to give the Soviet Union and other nations the right to inspect sensitive military installations. At the same time we are not spending enough money on the development of technology that could help us monitor a treaty," he said.
Owens added, "I will make the case with Armed Services Committee Chairman Les Aspin that adequate money for verification research would promote our national security. Then, working with Chairman Aspin, I will introduce an amendment to the Department of Defense budget requiring that sufficient funding is earmarked for research."
Methods to destroy U.S. chemical weapons and allow verification are being pioneered at the Chemical Agent Munitions Disposal System facility at the Tooele Army Depot.