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Letter to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services on the Arms Embargo on Bosnia-Herzegovina

August 10, 1994

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I am writing to reaffirm my Administration's support for lifting the international arms embargo on Bosnia and Herzegovina imposed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 713 of September 25, 1991. It has been my longheld view that the arms embargo has unfairly and unintentionally penalized the victim in this conflict and that the Security Council should act to remedy this injustice.

At the same time, I believe lifting the embargo unilaterally would have serious implications going well beyond the conflict in Bosnia itself. It could end the current negotiating process, which is bringing new pressure to bear on the Bosnian Serbs. Our relations with our Western European allies would be seriously strained and the cohesiveness of NATO threatened. Our efforts to build a mature and cooperative relationship with Russia would be damaged. It would also greatly increase American responsibility for the outcome of the conflict. The likelihood of greater U.S. military involvement in Bosnia would be increased, not decreased.

The July 30 Contact Group ministerial was an important step in our strategy of giving negotiations a chance and, at the same time, building an international consensus in support of multilateral action on the arms embargo, should the Bosnian Serbs continue to reject the Contact Group's proposal.

Contact Group unity has been key to the effectiveness of our approach to date, which has brought new pressure to bear on the Bosnian Serbs. This unity will be especially critical as we approach the Contact Group's final option of lifting the arms embargo. As Secretary Christopher made clear in Geneva, we will not allow the process leading to a Security Council decision on the arms embargo to be delayed indefinitely.

In this regard, if by October 15 the Bosnian Serbs have not accepted the Contact Group's proposal, of July 6, 1994, it would be my intention within two weeks to introduce formally and support a resolution at the United Nations Security Council to terminate the arms embargo on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Further, as my Administration has indicated previously, if the Security Council for some reason fails to pass such a resolution within a reasonable period of time, it would be my intention to consult with the Congress thereafter regarding unilateral termination of the arms embargo.

I hope this clarification of my Administration's policy and intentions is helpful. I would consult promptly with the Congress should unforeseen circumstances arise. I also want to express my gratitude for your leadership and support on this important issue which affects our national security.



NOTE: This letter was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary but was not issued as a White House press release.

William J. Clinton, Letter to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services on the Arms Embargo on Bosnia-Herzegovina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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