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Tell the Senate to Give Cluster Bombs the Boot!
US Campaign organizes national call-in day Monday, March 30
WASHINGTON - March 24 - Congress passed and President Obama signed into law a permanent ban on exports of nearly all types of U.S. cluster bombs in mid-March, moving the U.S. one step closer to the position of the nearly 100 nations-including Britain, France, and Canada-that signed a treaty banning these weapons in December. Cluster munitions, which leave behind large numbers of dud submunitions that continue to threaten civilians long after the fighting ends, are known as the "bombs that keep on killing".
Campaigners are now calling on Congress to take the next step and ban U.S. use of cluster bombs. "If U.S. allies should not use these weapons, then why should U.S. troops?" asks Lora Lumpe, coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs.
The export provision, included in an omnibus budget bill, states that cluster weapons cannot be exported from the U.S. if they leave behind more than one percent of their submunitions as landmine-like duds. This measure effectively halts exports, as only a tiny fraction of the U.S. arsenal of around 700 million submunitions would meet this one percent standard.
In past years, the U.S. has exported cluster munitions to at least 28 countries. U.S.-exported cluster bombs were most recently used by Israel in Southern Lebanon, where dud rates were reportedly as high as 40 percent; hundreds of civilians and deminers have been killed or maimed since the fighting ended in 2006.
In addition, the United States has been the world's leading user of these weapons, having dropped them in civilian-populated areas of three countries in the past decade. U.S. troops most recently used cluster munitions in Iraq in 2003, resulting in widespread civilian casualties.
To ensure that these weapons are never again used, 16 senators introduced the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act (S. 416) in mid-February. The bill, which would apply the same standards to U.S. use that Congress just applied to export, has already gathered eight more Senate co-sponsors.
To help propel the bill forward, the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines & Cluster Bombs is organizing a national call-in day to the Senate on cluster bombs for Monday, March 30. The goal is to generate 5,000 calls from around the country to senators who have not yet cosponsored S. 416. "Growing support in the Senate for the cluster bomb bill will show President Obama that he has the public's backing to sign this treaty and send it to the Senate for ratification," said Lumpe.
While the new administration has not yet taken a position on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as a senator the president did vote for an amendment to restrict cluster bomb use. That 2006 amendment failed, 70-30.
A special toll-free number
(1-800-590-6313) will connect callers to the Capitol switchboard
on the call-in day. The list of current co-sponsors, call script,
and action alert can be found at http://www.fcnl.org/weapons/