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Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2008 > April 12, 2008 > Cluster Bombs—Is it Possible to Ban this Cruel Weapon?

Mainstream, Vol XLVI, No 17

Cluster Bombs—Is it Possible to Ban this Cruel Weapon?

Monday 14 April 2008, by Bharat Dogra


In the killing fields of Iraq or Afghanistan, Bosnia or Lebnon one weapon which has proved particularly cruel in claming lives and maiming people for a long time is the weapon called cluster bomb or cluster munitions.

A cluster bomb is a weapon containing multiple explosive submunitions. Cluster munitions consist of containers and submunition. Launched from the ground or air the containers open and disperse bomb-lets over a wide area. Several dozen or even several hundred bomblets can be spread in this way in an area with a radius of up to 600 metres. These contain high explosive power with a lot of capacity of metal fragmentation, increasing the possibility of multiple casualties.

Apart from their destructive potential at the time of war, these bomb-lets which spread over a wide area can continue to kill and maim civilian people, including children, for a long time after a war has ended. Fear of cluster bombs inhibits people from using agricultural fields, or accessing schools and hospitals. As a single cluster bomb contains a such a large number of bomblets, the possibility remains high that every cluster bomb leaves behind at least some unexploded ordnance. The percentage of civilian causalities is known to be extremely high in the case of cluster bombs.

Almost all the major military powers of the world—at present about 34 countries in all—are known to produce cluster bombs. As many as 73 countries stockpile cluster munition.

Keeping in view the enormous destructiveness of cluster weapons particularity for civilians, efforts as being made to draw up an international treaty to prohibit the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. This treaty should be completely non-discriminatory and should apply equally to all countries. Such efforts deserve wide support. The Global Day of ‘Action to Ban Cluster Bombs’ is being observed on April 19 this year.

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