Saturday, November 19, 2011

Australia, the U.S. and cluster bombs

      Australia is a signatory to the convention against cluster bombs. The Australian government under prime minister Gillard was a strong supporter of the ban on the bombs. The bombs release often hundreds of small bomblets that can spread over a large area. Up to 30 per cent fail and are a long term hazard.
      The United States along with several other great powers as well as Israel have not signed on to the ban. The U.S. now will have use of a base in  north-west Australia in Darwin. Many in Australia are concerned that the U.S. will stockpile cluster bombs among other weapons at the base. The ban itself prohibits not only the use of the cluster bombs but their stockpiling and transfer. The bombs should thus not be stockpiled on Australian territory nor even transferred through the territory.
     The Australian government has so far made no statement about the matter. The International Committee of the Red Cross  has said that the Australian draft legislation would permit the transit of cluster munitions and the retention of  cluster munitions in bases on Australian territory. In the interests of the United States it would seem that Australia may be willing to go against the provision of the cluster bomb ban that not long ago it wholeheartedly approved. Even close allies of the U.S. such as the U.K. have been unwilling to do this. For more see this article.

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