Spain to destroy all cluster bombs by June 2009

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Over 5,500 cluster bombs will be destroyed at a cost of EUR 5 million, said Spanish Defence Minister Carme Chacon.

3 December 2008

MADRID – Spain will destroy all its cluster bombs over the next seven months, Defence Minister Carme Chacon said Tuesday, a day before some 100 nations are to sign a landmark treaty banning their use.

The minister said that by June 2009 "we will only have the bombs that are strictly necessary for our engineers to learn how to deactivate them."

She was speaking to reporters during a visit to a factory which has been charged with destroyed Spain's cluster bombs.

Over 5,500 cluster bombs will be destroyed at a cost of around EUR 5 million, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The majority of the bombs were made in Spain but the arsenal which will be destroyed includes 600 US-made cluster bombs, the statement added.

In July, Spain's socialist government announced a "unilateral moratorium" on the production and sale of cluster bombs.

The treaty which will be signed in Oslo on Wednesday was agreed upon in May and outlaws the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions which primarily kill civilians.

Dropped from planes or fired from artillery, cluster bombs explode in mid-air to randomly scatter hundreds of bomblets, which can be three inches (eight centimetres) in size.

Many cluster bomblets fail to explode, often leaving poverty-stricken areas trying to recover from war littered with countless de-facto landmines.

Dispersed in fields and pastures, the weapons make it perilous to cultivate the land and can claim numerous lives for decades after the end of a conflict.

About 100,000 people have been maimed or killed by cluster bombs around the world since 1965, 98 percent of them civilians, according to Handicap International.

[AFP / Expatica]

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