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s likely to be incredibly small compared to the reality on the ground. . Still, a collection of examples that have surfaced in the English-language media will help to document the use of these atrocious weapons.
Cluster bombs, dropped from the air, and cluster munitions, fired from the ground, are designated as such because they fragment into many smaller bombs.
. When a cluster weapon is dropped or fired, it opens in the air and disperses hundreds of smaller explosives (submunitions, or bomblets) which scatter over an area of up to hundreds of thousands of feet. . .
Most of these submunitions explode upon impact, but between 5% and 30% fail to ignite. . These “duds” retain their deadly features, and typically will explode immediately when touched. . Herein lies the main threat to civilians, since dud bombs act as landmines across vast areas for many years.
During the first Gulf War, the US and its allies dropped cluster bombs containing around 20 million bomblets. . In addition, cluster munitions spread more than 30 million bomblets. . In Kuwait, around 200 cluster duds are still being found and destroyed each month. . . In Afghanistan, the United States dropped 1,228 CBU-87 cluster bombs containing 248,056 bomblets. . . Assuming a 7% failure rate, . this would leave roughly 17,363 unexploded bomblets scattered across Afghanistan.
The US and UK are quick to point out that cluster bombs and cluster munitions are not specifically banned under the 1997 Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty. . . Still, the indiscriminate nature of scattered explosives and the lingering danger of unexploded bombs make these weapons nearly identical to landmines. . A strong case can also be made that cluster bombs and munitions are illegal under the Geneva Convention, which demands the protection of civilians even when intermingled with military personnel.
The US and the UK both officially acknowledged on April 3 that their air forces have been dropping cluster bombs on Iraq. . . Judging by