Campaigners attack cluster bomb 'hypocrisy' (UK)
Britain's attitude towards international cluster bomb agreements is hypocritical and needs changing immediately, campaigners say.
Landmine Action director Simon Conway made the claim days before a major conference in Dublin, when world leaders will finalise the text of an international treaty to ban the use and stockpiling of cluster munitions.
During the last decade Britain's use of cluster bombs, which release and scatter small bomblets over a large area, has been surpassed by only two other countries around the world.
Campaigners oppose their use because many of the bomblets often only explode when they are picked up by curious children.
The MoD wants exemptions from the ban for certain types of cluster bombs and is allegedly calling for changes to the treaty which would allow them to continue to be used by the US.
"It's terrible hypocrisy, on the one hand to say that these weapons cause unacceptable harm and ban them and on the other hand to give a sly nod to the US to continue using them," Mr Conway said.
His comments come as Amnesty International publishes the results of a YouGov poll showing UK popular opinion has turned against cluster bombs.
Nearly four in five Britons think the government should support a worldwide ban, the poll suggests, while 62 per cent said Britain cannot act as a force for good if it does not adopt the treaty.
"Evidence from recent conflicts has shown that cluster bombs are inherently unreliable, inaccurate and have no place in modern warfare," Amnesty's international arms programme director Oliver Sprague said.
"If the UK government wants to be seen to uphold international law, it has a duty to make sure that these indiscriminate weapons are no longer part of its arsenal."
The MoD said the UK government was determined to address the humanitarian impact of cluster bombs and that its "ultimate goal" was to produce a new legally binding instrument on the issue.
"We will continue to work with the international community to ensure that the humanitarian objectives we and many others share are fulfilled," the spokesperson said.
Von: 15.5.2008, www.inthenews.co.uk