Persian Gulf: U.S. Cluster Bomb Duds A Threat;
Warning Against Use of Cluster Bombs in Iraq
- March 18 - Dangerous explosive duds from cluster munitions used
by allied forces in the 1991 Persian Gulf War are still being
found and destroyed in Kuwait at the startling rate of 200 per
month, according to official documents obtained by Human Rights
Watch released a new briefing paper today warning against the
use of cluster bombs in Iraq.
the Kuwait Ministry of Defense show that 2,400 explosive cluster
munition duds were found and destroyed in Kuwait in 2002, and
a similar number the previous year.
"The use of
cluster munitions in Iraq will endanger civilians for years to
come," said Mark Hiznay, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch
and author of the new briefing paper. "Cluster bombs also threaten
U.S. and friendly soldiers during combat."
Watch has issued detailed analyses of the U.S. use of cluster
bombs in the Persian Gulf War, in Kosovo and in Afghanistan.
1991 Gulf War, the United States and its allied coalition dropped
bombs containing about twenty million submunitions, and also reportedly
fired artillery projectiles containing more than thirty million
submunitions. These resulted in millions of hazardous duds, each
functioning like an indiscriminate antipersonnel landmine.
At least eighty
U.S. casualties during the war were attributed to cluster munition
duds. More than 4,000 civilians have been killed or injured by
cluster munition duds since the end of the war.
Watch called attention to four particular types of U.S. cluster
munitions that have had high failure rates in combat or in testing:
-- The Multiple
Launch Rocket System (MLRS) with M77 submunitions has had a failure
rate of 16 to 23 percent. Each standard volley of twelve MRLS
rockets would likely result in more than 1,200 explosive duds.
-- 155mm Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) artillery
projectiles with M42 and M46 submunitions have had a failure rate
of 14 percent. -- Rockeye CBU-99/CBU-100 air-dropped bombs with
Mk 118 submunitions. This Vietnam-era cluster munition was used
extensively in the 1991 Gulf War and has accounted for a very
large percentage of the explosive duds subsequently encountered.
Almost 20 percent of the cluster munition duds found in Kuwait
in 2002 were from Rockeye bombs. -- The CBU-87 Combined Effects
Munition with BLU-97 submunitions had a failure rate of at least
7 percent in Yugoslavia and Kosovo in 1999. More than 10,000 air-dropped
CBU-87s with more than 2 million submunitions were used in the
Gulf War; more than 1,000 with over 200,000 submunitions were
used in Afghanistan.
States has cluster munitions containing more than one billion
submunitions in current stockpiles, including more than 434 million
155mm DPICM artillery submunitions and more than 309 million MLRS
Watch has called for a global moratorium on use of cluster munitions
until the humanitarian problems are addressed. Short of that commitment,
Human Rights Watch urges that the United States, United Kingdom,
and others that may deploy cluster munitions in Iraq take the
the use of any cluster munitions in attacks on or near populated
areas; -- Suspend use of and withdraw cluster munitions that have
been tested and identified as producing high dud rates; -- Refrain
from using or transferring out-of-date types of cluster munitions
in an effort to "clean the closet" of stockpiles; -- Record, report,
track and mark known or suspected cluster munition strike areas;
and, -- Preserve this information so it can be disseminated quickly
in clearance efforts.
Watch's 2003 briefing paper on cluster munitions in Iraq is available
online at http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/arms/cluster031803.htm
information on cluster bombs please refer to the Arms Division's
web site on cluster bombs http://www.hrw.org/arms/clusterbombs.php
information on landmines please refer to Human Rights Watch documents
on Landmines available online at http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/iraq/iraqmines1212.htm
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