Clearing the Air

Clearing the Air

Using poison gas has been a violation of international law since 1925, but stocking national arsenals with it has not. The 39-nation Conference on Disarmament in Geneva filled some loopholes last week when it finished work, after 24 years of negotiation, on a new treaty. It outlaws production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons, and will take effect after 65 nations have signed it. Some states will refuse to sign; others, like Russia, will hesitate because scrapping chemical weapons will be so expensive. For the U.S., which will sign, the price tag will be more than $6 billion.

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