Archive for Thursday, May 29, 2008

Treaty seeks to ban cluster bombs

May 29, 2008


— Diplomats from more than 100 nations agreed on a treaty Wednesday to ban current types of cluster bombs and require the destruction of stockpiles within eight years.

However, the talks did not involve the biggest makers and users of cluster bombs: the United States, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan. And the pact leaves the door open for new types that could pick targets more precisely and contain self-destruct technology.

Cluster munitions, fired by artillery or dropped from aircraft, scatter dozens or hundreds of "bomblets" across an area as big as two football fields to attack concentrations of troops and vehicles.

They have been used with devastating impact on battlefields around the globe. But critics complain the explosives often fail to detonate and later inflict a terrible cost on civilians, from farmers who strike bomblets in their fields to children who mistake them for playthings.

The breakthrough on a ban capped more than a year of negotiations begun in Norway and pressed home over the past 10 days in Dublin. Nations are expected to sign the document in December in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.


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