Finland Snubs Cluster Bomb Treaty (Finland)
Helsinki - The Norwegian government has expressed disappointment over Finland's decision not to join the international treaty banning cluster weapons.
However, Adm. Juhani Kaskeala, Finland's defense chief, welcomed the government's decision, describing it as "practical and responsible."
"Had Finland joined the ban we would have risked having a significantly weaker and more expensive defense," he said.
The additional cost of joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), Kaskeala said, would have exceeded $1.2 billion due to the cost of purchasing replacement weapons to defend the country's 812-mile border with Russia.
Countries that have signed up to the CCM include Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The treaty is scheduled to be signed in Oslo on Dec. 3.
Sweden has deferred a decision until late November.
"Cluster weapons are such a significant part of Finland's defense that we cannot afford not to use them," said Matti Vanhanen, Finland's prime minister.
Norway confirmed plans to destroy all of the military's stock of about 52,000 cluster bombs, Defense Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen said.
"We are disappointed that Finland has not joined, but we hope it will join in the future," she said.
Von: 06.11.2007, by Gerard O'Dwyer, www.defensenews.com