May 29 2008
Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) today praised a new international agreement to ban the vast majority of cluster munitions, and called on the United States to join the agreement.
Under the treaty announced Wednesday in Dublin, Ireland, 111 nations agreed to stop producing and using cluster munitions. The agreement also calls on signatories to destroy all cluster munitions stockpiles within eight years. The United States declined to sign on to the agreement.
“The treaty among 111 nations to ban the vast majority of cluster bombs is a giant step forward, but it leaves the United States outside of any international framework when it comes to these weapons,” Senator Feinstein said.
“This is really unacceptable. 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’t do it, the next one should.”
Senator Leahy, who chairs the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, said, “Anyone who has seen the devastation these weapons can cause over a wide area understands that they pose an unacceptable threat to civilians. Norway -- which launched the negotiations -- and the other countries that participated deserve great credit for negotiating a strong treaty. 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. There is no place for such indiscriminate weapons in the world that we want for our children and grandchildren in the 21st Century.”
Cluster Bomb Legislation by Senators Feinstein and Leahy in 110th Congress:
The State and Foreign Operations section of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, signed into law by the President in December, included language sponsored by Senators Leahy and Feinstein to restrict the sale or transfer of cluster bombs by the United States.
The measure specifically requires that no military funds will be used for the sale or transfer of cluster munitions, unless:
- The weapons have a failure rate of not more than 1 percent;
- The sale or transfer agreement specifies that the weapons will be used only against clearly defined military targets, and not where civilians are known to be present.
The current U.S. arsenal contains an estimated 5.5 million cluster bombs – or 728 million bomblets – many of which have a failure rate of 1 percent or higher.