Thursday, May 29, 2008

U.S. Rejects Global Ban On Cluster Bombs

Global cluster munitions ban agreed, U.S. absent
28 May 2008 21:15:24 GMT
Source: Reuters
(adds U.S. quotes, background)

By Andras Gergely

DUBLIN, May 28 (Reuters) - A draft treaty for a worldwide ban on cluster munitions was adopted on Wednesday although major powers including the United States did not attend the meeting.

The Dublin gathering attended by more than 100 nations made the final step towards agreement after a promise from Britain to stop using the devices. Cluster bombs can cause indiscriminate injury long after a conflict has ended.

Diplomats and activists said the text built on the lessons from the 1997 treaty to ban landmines and it did not allow exceptions.

"It's a strong and robust prohibition on all known cluster munitions," Christian Ruge, a member of the Norwegian delegation, told Reuters after a meeting that Russia and China also did not attend.

The draft will be submitted to a plenary session on Friday but approval is now regarded as a formality. Unless any unexpected objections derail the process, the treaty is due to be signed in Oslo in December.

Cluster munitions open in mid-air and scatter as many as several hundred "bomblets" over a wide area. They often fail to explode, creating virtual minefields that can kill or injure anyone who finds them later, often curious children.

Despite the draft treaty, the United States said it still opposed a ban on cluster munitions.
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