Britain bans dumb cluster bombs

Charities say the ban does not go far enough.


    Belgian troops work to remove cluster bombs
    in southern Lebanon [AFP]

    Campaigners say the bombs often fail to explode on impact, and can kill civilians years after a war ends.
     
    Britain and the US used thousands of cluster bombs during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Israel fired them widely into southern Lebanon last year during fighting with Hezbollah guerrillas.
     
    Des Browne, the defence secretary, said: "It is our duty to make sure our forces have the equipment they need to do the job we ask of them. At the same time, we should strive to reduce civilian casualties to the minimum.
     
    "Military commanders are first to point out that modern conflicts are in large part about winning hearts and minds."
     
    But Simon Conway, director of Landmine Action UK, said the self-destruct mechanisms on the newer British bombs, identical to ones used by Israelis during a war in Lebanon last year, were not reliable enough to make them safe.
     
    "These are littered all over southern Lebanon because they failed and the self-destruct mechanisms failed," he said.
     
    In some cases the new bombs have actually proven harder to clear than the old ones because the self-destruct mechanism carries an extra detonator, making them even more dangerous.
     
    Austria and Norway have banned all unguided cluster weapons, not just those without self-destruct mechanisms.
     
    Still, he said, it was a sign of progress that Britain was acknowledging that civilian casualties were a problem.
     
    "It's a good step. What they need to do is acknowledge that sticking a self-destruct mechanism on to a munition isn't enough.
     
    "In our view, 'smart' means precision-guided, and attaching self-destruct mechanisms to an unguided area effect weapon does not make it 'smart'."

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.