U.S. Seeing Profits, Rejects Cluster Bomb Treaty

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Sensor-Fuzed Weapon

A landmark treaty limiting the destructive firepower of cluster bombs is under threat from a lobbying campaign by a U.S. defense contractor that claims to have made a civilian-friendly version of the weapon.

Textron Defense Systems wants the U.S. government to convince the more than 90 countries who have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions to amend the agreement to allow ordnance like the Sensor Fuzed Weapon to be used in battle, where it can spray 40 individual projectiles of molten copper across 30 acres while destroying enemy tanks. Despite its widespread lethality, Textron officials argue their weapon produces a “clean battlefield operation”—meaning minimal civilian casualties.

“Knowing that we are in no way, shape or form contributing to [civilian suffering] is really a very satisfying place to be,” Mark D. Rafferty, vice president of business development for Textron, told the Boston Globe.

Under the treaty, nations are allowed to use cluster bombs that only release 10 bomblets or less, which would put the U.S. Air Force—which has bought 4,600 of the new weapon for several billion dollars—in violation of international law if the Sensor Fuzed Weapon is used by the American military. Textron also has sold the weapon to Turkey, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, and is close to selling more than 500 of them to India for $375 million.
                                                                                                                                                   -Noel Brinkerhoff

Made in Mass., Bomb Stirs Global Debate (by Bryan Bender, Boston Globe)


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