Netherlands agrees to ban cluster bombs
The Netherlands will sign the international treaty to ban all cluster bombs despite defence minister’s initial plan to avoid a complete rejection.29 May 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - The Netherlands will sign the international treaty calling for the abolition of cluster bombs, currently being negotiated in Dublin.
Trouw reports a breakthrough at a disarmament conference in Dublin. An agreement reached On Wednesday means that more than 100 countries will ban all cluster munitions.
Cluster bombs consist of dozens, or even hundreds of bomblets which are distributed over a wide area. Some of the bomblets explode on impact, while others detonate upon contact like a land mine.
Many other countries have also intended to put their names to the treaty, even though such major powers as the US, China and Russia are refusing to do so.
By signing the treaty, The Netherlands is agreeing that its army will distance itself in every way from the use of cluster bombs. Although Dutch Minister of Defence, Eimert van Middenkoop, initially wanted to avoid a complete rejection, he has now agreed to sign the treaty.
Dutch Defence Minister Eimert Middelkoop said "The Netherlands will sign the treaty with full conviction", adding that he expected diplomats would finalise the treaty in the next few days. The Netherlands will now ban the small cluster bombs used by Apache helicopter gunships.
Bigger cluster bombs used by F16 jet fighters had already been banned under an earlier disarmament treaty. The signatories to the new treaty will commit to never again use, develop, store or trade cluster munitions.
[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]