[JURIST] The ban on cluster bombs [ICRC materials; JURIST news archive] currently being considered at the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions [official website, JURIST report] could impede humanitarian efforts by discouraging cooperation with non-signatories, a US State Department official said in a press briefing [transcript] Wednesday. US Acting Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Stephen D. Mull said that the draft treaty would bar signatories from any military cooperation, including humanitarian and peace-keeping operations, with nations that refused to sign the ban. The US has long said that it will not support a ban on cluster bombs [JURIST report]. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.
Opponents of cluster bombs, including some military officers, believe them to be inaccurate weapons designed to spread damage indiscriminately. An estimated 10-40 percent of the munitions fail to detonate and become a serious hazard for civilian populations. Since the two-day Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions [conference materials] last February, there have been increasing calls to ban the weapons. Last month the US said it would not attend the 2008 Dublin conference [JURIST report], but that it is open to negotiations to reduce their impact on civilians by requiring increased reliability, accuracy and visibility of unexploded munitions.