Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Warning Against Use of Cluster Bombs in Iraq released by Human Rights Watch

Cluster munitions cannot be targeted with precision. They cause damage over a very large and imprecise area, and, due to the numbers used and high failure rate, leave behind a great many unexploded “dud” submunitions that become de facto antipersonnel landmines.
"The use of cluster munitions in Iraq will endanger civilians for years to come," said Mark Hiznay, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch."
During the 1991 Gulf War, the United States and its allied coalition dropped bombs containing about twenty million submunitions, and also reportedly fired artillery projectiles containing more than thirty million submunitions. These resulted in millions of hazardous duds, each functioning like an indiscriminate antipersonnel landmine. At least eighty U.S. casualties during the war were attributed to cluster munition duds. More than 4,000 civilians have been killed or injured by cluster munition duds since the end of the war.

HRW called attention to four particular types of U.S. cluster munitions that have had high failure rates in combat or in testing:
*The Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) with M77 submunitions has had a failure rate of 16 to 23 percent.
*155mm Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) artillery projectiles with M42 and M46 submunitions have had a failure rate of 14 percent.
*Rockeye CBU-99/CBU-100 air-dropped bombs with Mk 118 submunitions. This Vietnam-era cluster munition was used extensively in the 1991 Gulf War and has accounted for a very large percentage of the explosive duds subsequently encountered. Almost 20 percent of the cluster munition duds found in Kuwait in 2002 were from Rockeye bombs.
*The CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition with BLU-97 submunitions had a failure rate of at least 7 percent in Yugoslavia and Kosovo in 1999.
The United States has cluster munitions containing more than one billion submunitions in current stockpiles, including more than 434 million 155mm DPICM artillery submunitions and more than 309 million MLRS rocket submunitions.

It seems that these dangers are both predictable and also preventable. I hope the US and its allies consider these points. Amen!!
(posted by Iman)

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