US is shipping thousands on cluster bombs to the Saudi Arabia, despite international bans, as Saudi remains one of the main military and financial supporters of the ongoing deadly war in Syria.
Cluster bombs are banned by 83 nations, but that isn’t stopping the US military from selling $640 million worth of American-made cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, despite the near-universal revulsion at such weapons.
Cluster bombs spit out dozens, even hundreds, of micro-munitions in order to cover a wide area with death and destruction.
These weapons are used for killing large groups of people, destroying thinly-skinned vehicles and dispensing landmines or poison gas.
The irony of the US selling one authoritarian Middle East country 1,300 cluster bombs while criticizing the use of indiscriminate weapons by others isn’t lost on the Cluster Munition Coalition, an international group dedicated to ending the use of such weapons.
These weapons are loathed because in addition to killing enemy combatants, their fairly indiscriminate nature means they can kill plenty of civilians. And not just in the heat of battle.
The little ball-shaped bomblets dispersed by cluster munitions don’t always detonate on first impact. Often, they will just sit there on the ground until someone, maybe a child, picks them up and causes them to explode.
So far, 112 countries have signed an international treaty banning cluster bombs, with 83 ratifying it.
United States has not signed the treaty and is selling thousands Textron-made cluster bombs to the Saudis between now and 2015.
Despite the fact that the US State Department says it “shares in the international concern about the humanitarian impact of all munitions, including cluster munitions” it’s in no hurry to sign the ban.