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Argument: A cluster bomb ban would jeopardize joint peacekeeping operations

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Stephen Mull, acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs told reporters in May of 2008 the proposed ban being discussed could 'criminalize' joint military operations between countries that signed the ban and those that did not. "we are concerned that measures adopted by the Oslo process could very much endanger our ability to operate and to cooperate with other militaries and other governments around the world. For example, the current draft of the Oslo process convention under consideration would effectively criminalize cooperation of countries who sign the convention, the Oslo process convention, criminalize their cooperation with militaries who do not sign them, who do not - with governments who do not sign the convention and who still use cluster munitions. And this would have very grave implications for a whole range of activities that we don't think are within the goals of the organizers of this process.

But 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, in providing disaster relief or humanitarian assistance as we're doing right now in the aftermath of the earthquake in China and the typhoon in Burma, and not to mention everything that we did in Southeast Asia after the tsunami in December of 2004. And that's because most U.S. military units have in their inventory these kinds of weapons. So with one stroke, any country that signed the convention as it exists now and ratified it, in effect, would make it impossible for the United States or any of our other allies who rely on these weapons to participate in these humanitarian exercises. And we don't think that that's a good thing for world security. So we have real practical concerns about the interoperability implications - implications of this convention for our interoperability with other militaries and with other governments.

I'd say that we're not alone in this. I know that within the NATO alliance, there are serious concerns about the implications for this convention on interoperability. Some members of NATO are participating in the process to make known their concerns. Others, like us, are not. But it's really a very serious concern of what one negative outcome of this process could be.[1]

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