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Just a month ago, at the United Nations in New York, I reiterated my commitment to ridding the world of chemical weapons, and I announced a program whereby the United States would eliminate its chemical weapons stocks completely within 10 years after a chemical weapons ban treaty enters into force if all other nations capable of building such weapons do so as well. Furthermore, we would reduce our chemical weapons stocks by 98 percent within 8 years after the conclusion of such a convention if the Soviet Union agreed to join. We are negotiating for such an agreement at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, and its achievement would be one of the most important disarmament steps in the twentieth century.
Today we take another step along that path. The chemical weapons destruction facility to be built at Tooele says to all the world that the United States is determined to fulfill its promises, that our people and our government are committed to halting the spread of chemical weapons and eliminating their very existence. Though some in Utah may feel that the chemical weapons arms control negotiations in Geneva are far removed, this facility demonstrates how important the people of Utah are to that process. Its construction is a response to two challenges: first, our national commitment of willingness to work with the Soviet Union to reduce our stockpiles down to 20 percent of existing U.S. stocks even before a multilateral treaty is signed, and second, the difficult technical challenge of finding a way to safely, efficiently, and quickly demilitarize those stocks.
I extend my thanks to the partnership that has made this day possible: to the people of Utah, particularly those who live and work in Tooele; to the many government employees and the military personnel in Tooele and elsewhere who have worked to speed the process; and the industry team which is committed to build, operate, and eventually close down this facility.
I have said that I want to get on with the process of ridding the world of these weapons. Now we need to get on with the process of building this facility.