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US Using Cluster Munitions In Iraq

Campaign Against Land Mines, New Zealand Office

US Using Cluster Munitions In Iraq

"If New Zealand is going to send personnel into Iraq to help with reconstruction after the war, our Government should be joining the worldwide chorus calling for the end of the use of cluster bombs" said John V Head, Convenor of the New Zealand Campaign Against Landmines.

"For days now there has clear evidence that the artillery units of the US 3rd Infantry Division have made extensive use of their M 26 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems(MLRS), and a similar weapon was used against suspected air defence sites to protect helicopters supporting an attack by the US 101st Airborne Division. Some of these weapons have a failure rate for their bomblets of 16%. It has been estimated that a typical volley of twelve rockets would spray at least 1,200 dangerous duds over a large impact area. These lethal duds are far more lethal than landmines."

Reports and photos from Iraq show high civilian casualties from the unexploded bomblets and these will become a long term danger to the civilian population for many years to come. But it is not just civilians that are killed and wounded.

Already two US Marines advancing in Southern Iraq have been killed from these bomblets in separate incidents in southern Iraq on March 27 and 28. In the 1991 Gulf War there were at least 80 US casualties from unexploded cluster bomblets and six US deminers were killed from cluster bombs. Even if they do not care about the impact on the civilian population, it is unbelievable that the British and US Armies would use them in areas they plan to later occupy and certainly they should not be used in built up areas.

CALM has been advised that the RAF have dropped 50 BL755 cluster bombs each containing 147 bomblets in southern Iraq. These old cluster bombs have passed their "use by dates" and two countries have destroyed all their stocks. In desert country it has been estimated that over 1000 of these bomblets would become dangerous duds.Using them seems preferable to destroying them.

The United States and Britain should just not be using these inhumane weapons said Mr Head.

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