The enduring legacy of cluster bombs

The April 16 2007 edition of ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live had a disturbing interview with John Rodsted, an Australian campaigner against landmines and cluster bombs (it is the back third of the podcast). 

The interview was quite instructive on the terrible legacy associated with these munitions, especially the phenomena of unexploded ordnance left in areas bombed, killing civilians up to 30 years after armed conflict.

It was reported that these munitions are typically the size of a “D” cell battery, covering the ground, and nestling in trees, buildings etc., having a “failure to explode” rate much higher than the manufacturers claims of 1%. Also reported was that the majority of cluster munitions used by Israel in southern Lebanon in the July 2006 conflict were deployed in the last 72 hours before the declaration of a ceasefire, resulting in many areas becoming uninhabitable due to unexploded munitions.

It is pretty difficult not to come to the conclusion that these weapons are really used for the long-term strategic aim of limiting the economic and social recovery of the areas bombed.

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