Treaty on banning cluster bombs formally adopted

May 30th, 2008 - 8:22 pm ICT by admin  

Dublin, May 30 (DPA) An international treaty banning cluster munitions was formally adopted by 111 countries in Dublin Friday, Irish national broadcaster RTE reported. The agreement, which entails a commitment to remove the weapons from national arsenals within eight years, ended nearly two weeks of diplomatic wrangling in the Irish capital.

The text of the treaty was agreed late Wednesday, with Britain making a surprise pledge to scrap its arsenal of cluster bombs.

The countries will sign the treaty in Oslo in December.

In the agreement, signatories will pledge to not only to stop using cluster bombs but also to stop selling, storing or producing them.

The main producers of the weapons - the US, Israel, China, Russia, India and Pakistan - stayed away from the conference and said they would not support the convention.

Under pressure from NATO countries, the text of the anti-cluster-bomb convention contains a concession to the US and other countries which want to continue to use and produce such munitions, by allowing military cooperation between signatories and non-signatories.

Cluster bombs drop hundreds of tennis-ball-sized smaller explosives known as “bomblets,” which then scatter and detonate across the battlefield.

Many bomblets fail to explode for years after a conflict, posing a threat to civilians, especially children who often mistake the munitions for toys.

The death toll ranges into the tens of thousands of civilians killed, often blinded or maimed by the weapons.

According to UN estimates, they continue to present a lethal threat in more than 30 countries.

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