Int'l conference on dismantling cluster munitions slated for June in Berlin (Germany)

An international conference on the dismantling of cluster munitions stockpiles is slated to be held in Berlin in June, its organizers said.


The conference, organized by the German and Norwegian governments and scheduled for June 25 and 26, is aimed at building up international cooperation and sharing technology for dismantling cluster bombs.

Organizers plan to invite non-signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as well as members, in a bid to spur international calls for a ban on the weapons.

"Through the meeting, we'd like to urge countries that have not signed the convention to support our goal," said an official of the German Foreign Ministry.

"Some countries that have signed the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines failed to complete dismantling their landmines by the deadline. To prevent such a delay in the Convention on Cluster Munitions, it's necessary to work toward international cooperation before the convention comes into force," another German government official said.

The convention requires parties to dismantle all cluster munitions that they possess within eight years of it coming into force. However, it's a dangerous and technology-intensive task, and one German government official said there are only about 10 companies -- mainly based in Europe -- with experience of dismantling and disposing of such bombs.

Another hurdle is the projected costs of dismantling cluster bombs arsenals. However, if countries jointly place an order for such work through the conference, it's hoped to reduce the expense involved.

The organizers will invite representatives of the governments of 96 states, including Japan, Britain, France, Laos and Afghanistan, experts in dismantling cluster bombs and officials of countries that have not signed the treaty, including the United States, China and Russia, to participate. The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama will likely be among the invited.

Attention is focused on how Washington will respond to the conference as Obama -- who has recently signed a draft of the federal government's budget that calls for a ban on cluster bomb exports -- is in favor of placing certain restrictions on such weapons.

Von: The Mainichi Daily News, 21.04.2009

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