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Cluster Bombs for Peace

U.S: “Cluster bomb ban could jeopardize peacekeeping”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A proposed global ban on cluster bombs could jeopardize U.S. participation in joint peacekeeping and disaster relief operations around the world, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.

Representatives of over 100 nations are meeting in the Irish capital Dublin to hammer out an agreement against use of cluster munitions, although the United States, China and Russia are not participating. Critics say such munitions are unreliable and indiscriminate.

But Stephen Mull, acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said the weapons have a “certain military utility.”

He told reporters the proposed ban being discussed could “criminalize” joint military operations between countries that signed the ban and those that did not.

“For example, if the convention passes in its current form, any U.S. military ship would be technically not able to get involved in a peacekeeping operation like disaster relief, or humanitarian assistance, as we are doing right now in the aftermath of the earthquake in China and the typhoon in Burma, not to mention everything we did in southeast Asia after the tsunami in December of 2004,” Mull said.

“And that’s because most U.S. military units have in their inventory these kinds of weapons,” he said.

[…] The bombs can be dropped from aircraft or fired in missiles or artillery shells and have been used in conflicts including Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, the Balkans and in Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon.

Mull said the United States might need to use them to help its allies. He said the bombs would be very effective in terms of stopping an advancing army, such an invasion of South Korea or an invasion of Lebanon by Syria. [??????????]

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