The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Laura Chirot, US Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs,

Tell the Senate to Give Cluster Bombs the Boot!

US Campaign organizes national call-in day Monday, March 30


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

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

The United States Campaign to Ban Landmines is a coalition of non-governmental organizations working to ensure that the U.S. comprehensively prohibits antipersonnel mines--by banning their use in Korea--and joins the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, as more than 160 nations have done. It is the national affiliate of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), founded in New York in 1992 and recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate together with former ICBL coordinator Ms. Jody Williams of Vermont. We also call for sustained U.S. government financial support for mine clearance and victim assistance.