USA

Pentagon withdraws plan to ban use of cluster bombs


Washington, Dec 1 (IANS): The Pentagon has withdrawn a plan to ban the use of certain cluster bombs that are widely seen as a hazard to civilians, Pentagon spokesman Tom Crossen has said.

"The Department of Defense has determined that cluster munitions remain a vital military capability in the tougher war-fighting environment ahead of us, while still a relatively safe one," said the statement on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported.

In response, Mary Wareham, from the Cluster Munition Coalition, an international campaign seeking to eliminate cluster bombs, argued that there is no compelling reason for the use of cluster munitions.

"We condemn this decision to reverse the long-held US commitment not to use cluster munitions that fail more than 1 per cent of the time, resulting in deadly unexploded sub-munitions." she said.

Cluster bombs contain bomblets that scatter widely and can detonate months or years later. The Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international treaty that began in 2018 and has been signed by more than 100 countries, prohibits the use, transfer and stockpile of the weapon. However, the US is not a signatory.

Instead, the then Republican George W. Bush administration set a now nine-year-old policy that the US, by January 1, 2019, would end its use of cluster bombs that did not meet a standard of failing to detonate 1 per cent of the time or less, according to a The Hill report.

The US rarely uses cluster bombs but it has sold them to other countries and says they could be useful in any future large-scale ground war, said the report.

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