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Richard Nixon: Message to the Senate Transmitting Biological Weapons Convention.
Richard Nixon
253 - Message to the Senate Transmitting Biological Weapons Convention.
August 10, 1972
Public Papers of the Presidents
Richard Nixon<br>1972
Richard Nixon
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To the Senate of the United States:

I am transmitting herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons, and on their Destruction, opened for signature at Washington, London and Moscow on April 10, 1972.

The text of this Convention is the result of some three years of intensive debate and negotiation at the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament at Geneva and at the United Nations. It provides that the Parties undertake not to develop, produce, stockpile, acquire or retain biological agents or toxins, of types and in quantities that have no justification for peaceful purposes, as well as weapons, equipment and means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict. The provisions of the Convention are described in detail in the accompanying report of the Secretary of State.

It was about two years ago that this Government renounced, unilaterally and unconditionally, the use of all biological and toxin weapons and affirmed that we would destroy our existing stocks and confine our programs to strictly defined defensive purposes. These initiatives reflected a deep national conviction and contributed in a very substantial way to the ultimate success of the negotiations leading to this Convention.

At that same time, we looked to the day when the community of nations would act together to prohibit biological warfare and weaponry. We accompanied our renunciation of these weapons with support for the principles and objectives of the United Kingdora's 1968 draft convention in this field. On December 16,
1971, the Convention transmitted herewith, which would provide a binding international prohibition on the weapons we have renounced, was overwhelmingly commended by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

This Convention is the first international agreement since World War II to provide for the actual elimination of an entire class of weapons from the arsenals of nations. The safe destruction of biological and toxin stocks in this country is expected to be completed by the end of this year. All the stocks at Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas have already been destroyed, and the former biological warfare facility there is now a new national center for research on the adverse effects of chemical substances in man's environment. The former military biological research facility at Fort Detrick, Maryland, is becoming a center for cancer research. Other nations are being invited to share in the humanitarian work at these centers.

I believe this Convention will enhance the security of the United States and the world community. It will help ensure that scientific achievements in the field of biology will be devoted not to destruction but to the service of mankind. It represents a significant advance in the field of arms control and disarmament and I recommend that the Senate give it prompt and favorable attention.

August 10, 1972.

Note: The text of the convention and the report of the Secretary of State are printed in Senate Executive Q (92d Cong., 2d sess.).
Citation: Richard Nixon: "Message to the Senate Transmitting Biological Weapons Convention.," August 10, 1972. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=3523.
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