Sunday, May 31, 2009

Countries destroying cluster bombs before treaty even goes into effect

From Reuters:

GENEVA - Several of the 96 states that have so far signed a treaty to ban cluster bombs have started to destroy their stockpiles of the deadly weapons even before the treaty is ratified, an advocacy group said on Friday.

Supporters of the ban on the munitions that have killed or maimed tens of thousands of people said they hope the United States, which remains outside the pact along with Russia, China and other powers, will shortly sign up.

"Only a few years ago the destruction of these stockpiled cluster munitions would have been unthinkable, but there has been a sea change of opinion against this weapon," said Steve Goose of non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of being able to be at a banquet and the President of the Ploughshares Fund, Joseph Cirincione, a dedicated nuclear abolitionist and a very clever advocate. He explained to me that a lot of these cluster munitions are actually designed to look like toys -- they get more punch with each assault that way.

He told me that the military "likes to have options" -- that's why they keep these around, even though Congress virtually banned their export recently (something I'm sure the Israelis were pissed about).

So if we're saying the weapons aren't safe to give to other people, even our closest allies, we should take the logical step and say they're not able to be safely used by us, either. We really should be on board here.