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Ban The Use Of Cluster Bombs

4054 words - 16 pages

Ban the Use of Cluster Bombs

“It looked like the ball boys and girls toss each other during Hmong New Year festivities. Six year old Sia Ya threw it to her four year old brother, He couldn’t catch it and it landed behind him, exploding and killing him instantly. Sia Ya died after two agonizing days and nights in the provincial hospital.” (Account of Laotian cluster bomblet accident in 1996 - Laos War “Legacy”)


Cluster bombs were first used in the American conflict in Vietnam and Laos in the sixties. They became popular because they are one of the cheapest air delivered weapons available, costing about $60 per bomblet. They can be used against a variety of targets covering significant areas, rather than, for example, pin-pointing individual armored vehicles. They were believed to be a perfectly fit weapon during the Southeastern Asian jungle battles. Today, forty years after the war, unexploded submunitions still cause about 10 thousand innocent victims each year.

Despite the inhumane scars that followed its use in the above conflicts, cluster bombs were used again in the Balkans, in the Gulf War and today in Afghanistan. Now that we know their devastating long term effects, is it ethical to keep them in usage?


Cluster bombs, also called dispensers consist of two parts: the bomb shell itself and the hundreds of little bombs (called "bombies" by Laotians) that are contained inside of them. They are usually dropped from an aircraft - although they might also be launched like a missile. They "fall" away from the aircraft and are stabilized in flight by fin assemblies. In mid-air (at a predetermined altitude above the target area), they release their submunitions or "bomblets" that scatter onto the ground below where they are designed to detonate upon impact. Some bombs open up (Multi dispensers), and other eject out the submunitions (Single dispensers).

Submunitions are classified as bomblets, grenades, or mines. They are small explosive-filled or chemical-filled items designed for saturation coverage of a large area that can expand from several football fields to hundreds of acres. They may be antipersonnel (APERS), antimateriel (AMAT), antitank (AT), dual-purpose (DP), incendiary, or chemical.

Most submunitions are used to destroy an enemy/vehicle in place (impact submunitions). They are designed to go off when they hit the ground.

For example, the ball-type submunitions used during the Laotian conflict are called APERS. They are very small (of the size of a tennis ball) and are delivered by the hundreds for each bomb. If not detonated upon impact, they will lie hidden like a land mine, and will not blow up until pressure is put on it. When it hits the ground, a small fragmentation ball shoots up and detonates about 6 feet above the ground.

The AMAT and/or AT...

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