New Policy for Cluster Bombs

The United States intends to apply more stringent standards to the cluster munitions that it keeps on hand such that by 2018 it will only employ those types that contain bomblets with a dud rate of less than one percent, according to press reports. The Associated Press reported July 7 that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has signed a three-page memo that outlines these changes, which are meant to lessen the danger to civilians posed by bomblets still unexploded after impact. Such bomblets have remained capable of detonating for years afterwards. By next June, DOD will also begin to reduce its inventory of cluster bombs that do not meet these new safety requirements, according to AP. At the same time, US policy continues to be against the wholesale elimination of these munitions, AP reported. They are viewed as effective against armored columns and mass troop formations. The US did not attend a meeting in Dublin in May at which 111 nations agreed to adopt a treaty to ban cluster munitions and eliminate stockpiles within eight years, the Voice of America reported yesterday. China, Russia, Israel, India, and Pakistan also have not joined this movement.