22 May 2008

UK Comes In From The Cold On Cluster Bomb Ban

Download Press Release (PDF)(Dublin, Ireland, May 21st, 2008) Campaigners pushing for a ban on cluster bombs welcome this afternoon's statement from Gordon Brown and call on the UK to now give up their remaining cluster bomb stocks and sign up to the treaty.In response to a Prime Ministers question this afternoon, a number 10 spokesperson said in a public statement that: "The PM has issued instructions that we should work intensively to ban cluster bombs that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. We have already banned two types of cluster bombs, neither of which had a self-destruct or deactivation mechanism. The prime minister has asked the MOD to assess the remaining munitions in use to ensure that there is no risk to civilians"Simon Conway, Co-chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition and Director of Landmine action said: "We are glad that Gordon Brown is making good on his previous public commitment to ban cluster bombs and now expect the UK to give up the M85 and the M73, its remaining stockpile of indiscriminate cluster bombs".Up until now the British position has been dominated by their insistence to keep two types of cluster bombs M85 and M73. M85s were used by the British in Iraq in 2003. The M73 has never been deployed by the British, but has been used by the Americans in Iraq. It does not have a self-destruct or deactivation mechanism.Anna Macdonald, Head of Arms Control for Oxfam said: "Britain has at last come in from the cold– we hope that this strong statement from the Prime Minister will ensure that the UK signs onto the treaty and immediately gets rid of these weapons which main and kill long after they have been dropped".Up until now Britain was perceived as one of the countries seeking to weaken the treaty to ban cluster bombs. Campaigners and survivors from the Cluster Munition Coalition hope that this statement by Gordon Brown will provide evidence that there is room for manoever and may encourage other countries of concern to reconsider their position