Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Destroy Stockpile of Unsafe Cluster Submunitions

Pentagon’s Outdated Cluster Submunitions Pose Great Risk to Civilians

(Washington, D.C., July 21, 2005) — Despite some positive developments in its cluster munition policy, the United States retains—and still is willing to use—at least 728 million old, unreliable and inaccurate cluster submunitions, Human Rights Watch said today in a briefing paper.

The Pentagon should destroy its stockpile of dangerous and outdated cluster submunitions. These submunitions pose great risks to civilian populations and should never be used. Bonnie Docherty, researcher for the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch.

“The Pentagon should destroy its stockpile of dangerous and outdated cluster submunitions,” said Bonnie Docherty, researcher in Human Rights Watch’s Arms Division. “These submunitions pose great risks to civilian populations and should never be used.”

Cluster munitions are large weapons that usually contain hundreds of smaller submunitions. The U.S military’s current inventory of submunitions, if employed, would leave behind more than 27 million hazardous “duds” even when calculated using the Pentagon’s very conservative dud rates. The duds become de facto antipersonnel mines that can harm civilians even years later.
Any submunitions that are not destroyed must, if technically possible, be drastically modified to improve their accuracy and reliability rate so that they do not put civilians in excessive danger. Human Rights Watch said any technical improvements should be accompanied by changes in U.S. targeting doctrine, most notably a prohibition on use in or around populated areas.

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