Feinstein, Leahy Blast Administration for Sitting Out Cluster Ban Treaty

Over 100 nations agreed on a treaty Wednesday to ban current designs of cluster bombs and to destroy stockpiles of cluster bombs within eight years, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) are blasting the Bush administration for declining to sign.

 


"This is really unacceptable," Feinstein said in a press release today. "The United States should recognize the devastation that comes with the use of these munitions. I strongly urge the governments that did not participate in this convention to join this principled effort, and the United States should lead the way. And if this Administration won


Leahy spoke in Dublin this week at the meeting that led to the treaty. Leahy and Feinstein included anti-cluster bomb legislation in the omnibus appropriations bill signed by President Bush in December; the legislation restricts the sale and transfer of cluster bombs by the United States.


"I hope U.S. leaders will reconsider their position and that our country will join not only this treaty but the landmine treaty as well," Leahy said in the release. "There is no place for such indiscriminate weapons in the world that we want for our children and grandchildren in the 21st Century."


The agreeing nations are reportedly expected to sign the treaty in Oslo, Norway in December. A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity told Reuters in February that cluster bombs should not be considered bad if they are used responsibly.


Cluster bombs are weapons that spread smaller bomblets over a target area. Some bombs fail to detonate immediately, and can injure civilians who come upon them. The Red Cross issued a warning to Afghan children in 2002 to avoid unexploded bomblets dropped by the U.S., as they could detonate if children played with them. According the Red Cross, the color and size of the bomblets makes them particularly attractive to children.


A Sadrist Iraqi parliamentarian recently claimed that the U.S. had used cluster bombs in the Sadr City area of Baghdad, causing civilian deaths. Cluster bombs are opposed by activists and human rights groups who say they pose an unacceptable risk to civilians.

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