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What are cluster bombs and why are they banned in over a hundred countries?

What are cluster bombs and why are they banned in over a hundred countries?

The cluster bombs that USA will send to Ukraine have been for decades in the crosshairs of organizations promoting the human rights and defenders of gun controlwhich they consider should be illegal because they do not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

The explosive device is banned in more than 100 countries and has already been used in the war in Ukraine by both Russian and Ukrainian troops, killing civilians and seriously injuring survivors.

What are cluster bombs?

Cluster bombs were first used in World War II (1939-1945). They were designed to destroy multiple dispersed military targets, such as tank or infantry formations, and cause death or injury to combatants.

Specifically, they consist of a container that opens in the air and disperses a large quantity of explosive submunitions or “bomblets” over a wide area, which can reach a radius of between 200 and 400 meters.

Some models can release over 600 submunitions that are designed to explode on impact with the ground, though some fail to detonate and stay buried.

Those “bomblets” Those left in the ground can pose a danger to the civilian population that is comparable to landmines, since they can explode years later when a civilian passes through the area, causing death or serious injury, according to the International Committee of the Cross. Red.

Gabriela Iveliz Rosa Hernández, a researcher at the Association for Arms Control (ACA), pointed out that these ammunitions that remain buried could even endanger the lives of the Ukrainian forces as they return to the recovered territories.

Who has used them in Ukraine?

Human Rights Watch (HRW) assures that both Russia and Ukraine have used this type of weapon in the war in Ukraine, but assures that Moscow uses it more frequently than kyiv.

According to HRW, Russia has resorted to such weapons on several occasions. One of the incidents that the organization has investigated is the one that occurred in April 2022, when a Russian ballistic missile equipped with a cluster munitions warhead exploded over the crowded Kramatorsk railway station in eastern Ukraine, killing two people. at least 58 civilians.

Ukrainian forces, according to a March United Nations report, also used cluster bombs in 2022 in the eastern Ukrainian city of Izium.

Why are they banned in over a hundred countries?

Its indiscriminate nature and its risks to civilians have led to widespread rejection by the international community of its use.

In 2008, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international treaty to ban the use and manufacture of cluster bombs, was adopted and entered into force in 2010 upon reaching the minimum of 30 ratifications required.

According to the text, the remains of this type of bomb “they kill and maim civilians, including women and children”,prevent post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction” and “delay or prevent the return of refugees”among other things.

So far, 123 countries have ratified or at least signed the Convention, including several NATO members such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain.

At the time of its entry into force, in 2010, the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said that this new instrument represented a “step forward for global disarmament”then picked up the BBC chain.

However, major military powers such as the United States, Russia and China have not signed the agreement, nor have countries such as Ukraine, Israel, Pakistan or India.

What is the US position?

The United States has a complicated relationship with cluster bombs: it stopped using them in Afghanistan in 2002 and in Iraq in 2003, and in 2008, for humanitarian reasons, the Barack Obama administration (2009-2017) agreed to eliminate all bombs with a non-explosion rate -those that fail and remain buried- higher than 1%.

However, with the Administration of Donald Trump (2017-2021) Obama’s plan was canceled by virtue of the “clear military utility” of cluster munitions, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said in 2017, reflecting the opinion of the Pentagon, which has always been reluctant to abandon this type of weapon.

All in all, the decision of the Joe Biden government to give the green light to sending cluster bombs threatens to strain relations with the rest of the Atlantic Alliance countries, ACA executive director Daryl Kimball recently wrote.

In a press release published this Thursday, before confirming the decision, Kimball said that the shipment of this type of ammunition would be “counterproductive and would only increase the risks for civilians trapped in combat zones and for those who will one day return to their cities, towns and farms.”

Source: EFE

Source: Gestion

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