Obama Administration Fights to Keep Cluster Bombs despite International Ban

Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Prosthetic Legs in Laos (photo: spaceangelz, TripAdvisor)
American diplomats are lobbying for changes to the international treaty banning cluster bombs so the U.S. and other major military powers can join the protocol without actually giving up the deadly weapons. Cluster munitions are designed to burst open in midair and release anywhere from dozens to hundreds of smaller munitions that explode tiny fragments of metal, frequently injuring or killing civilian non-combatants.
Representatives from about 100 countries are discussing the U.S.-backed proposal at the Fourth Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva. The U.S. is not a party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The agreement currently bans the weapons, requires destruction of stockpiles within eight years, and mandates clearance of areas contaminated by cluster munitions within 10 years and assistance to victims. The U.S.-backed amendments to the CCW would allow ongoing continued use, production, trade and stockpiling of cluster munitions.
At various times, the United States has used cluster bombs in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Lebanon, Grenada, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Afghanistan and, most recently, Yemen. U.S. companies, with the permission of the federal government, have sold cluster munitions to at least 30 nations, most recently to the United Arab Emirates (2006), India (2008) and Saudi Arabia (2011).
The U.S. maintains a stockpile of an estimated 5 million cluster munitions and 700 million submunitions.
Zach Hudson, coordinator of the United States Campaign to Ban Landmines for Handicap International, told Inter Press Service that the changes sought by the Obama administration represent a “backslide” and are “really unacceptable.” Hudson added that the new draft “essentially undermines” the effort to rid the world of the destructive weapons.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
U.S. Leads Challenge to Ban on Cluster Munitions (by Sandra Siagian, Inter Press Sevice)
Cluster Munition Monitor 2011 (Mines Action Canada) (pages 327-332) (pdf)

U.S. Seeing Profits, Rejects Cluster Bomb Treaty (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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