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Argument: Improving cluster bomb detonation rates is the solution, not a ban

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Supporting quotations

Oliver Kamm. "Cluster bombs: don't ban them". Times Online. May 29, 2008.] - Campaigners might ask themselves whether the best means of limiting the civilian casualties of cluster bombs is in increasing the weapons' reliability and precision rather than banning them.


"U.S. Cluster Munitions Policy". Briefing by Stephen D. Mull, Acting Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs. 21 May 2008 - The United States relies on them as an important part of our own defense strategy. Many of our allies rely on them as well. But again, I repeat, we believe it's vitally important to regulate, strictly regulate the use of these weapons to take humanitarian considerations into account, and we do so.

So rather than ban them, we think a much more effective way to go about this is to pursue technological fixes that will make sure that these weapons are no longer viable once the conflict is over; in other words, that they explode when they're supposed to against the enemy you're trying to use them with and not six months later when kids are playing in the neighborhood. And we think the technology is already there, in fact, to introduce those kinds of standards. And so that's the kind of fix that we're going to be pursuing through the CCW process, and the next meeting of the CCW is going to be in July in Geneva.

[...]QUESTION: Sylvie Launteaume from AFP. You said that the cluster bombs have a certain military utility?

AMBASSADOR MULL: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But since - according to Handicap International, the NGO, 80 percent - 85 percent of the victims of cluster bombs are civilians and 23 percent are children. What kind of military utility to use the --

AMBASSADOR MULL: Well, there's certainly no military utility to use these weapons on children and innocent civilians. The utility of the weapons are in a conflict zone when you are trying to stop the advance of an enemy onto your territory or against - or against your position. So that's why I think it is vitally important that we explore, you know, how can we fix these weapons so that they will not be a danger. And we do believe that a technological fix is possible and we're reasonably confident we're going to be able to convince the other major producers of these weapons to agree with us in applying this fix. At least that's our goal for the CCW process.

QUESTION: But according to these figures, only 15 percent of the bombs reach their objectives.

AMBASSADOR MULL: Well, it's - that shows that there are technological problems with them now that need to be fixed. I'm not familiar with that statistic, but I think most of the times that these have been deployed in recent conflicts, most militaries have, in fact, found them effective. I know our own military finds them useful to have when preparing for a conflict situation.

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