"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

UK MOD announce scrapping of "Dumb" cluster bombs ... don't worry we are keeping the "Smart" ones

The MOD in the UK has stockpiles today of :

755 RBL cluster bomb dispensers each has 147 sub munitions (bomblets) Total = 111,000

43,200 MLRS M25 (not to be confused with guided MLRS which is being deployed to Afghanistan ) rockets, each rocket has 644 sub munitions, equals 27,820,800 sub munitions - that's one for every other person in the UK (ish)

Minister of Defence , ashen faced, Des Browne has announced today that they are all to be scrapped. Which in an Answer to Parliamentary Question on Cluster Munitions by Adam Ingram, Hansard, Column 504W, February 1, 2007 we were told would be phased out. These are so called "dumb" cluster bombs - the one's left are "smarter" and are supposed to self-destruct on a timer... he declined to say how many of those we hold. .... The UK purchased 59,364 L20A1 DPICM projectiles between 1996 and 2004. The L20A1 projectiles, 2,100 of which were used in the 2003 invasion of Iraq contain an M85 grenade, (Qty unknown) these were manufactured by BAE Systems Royal Ordnance under license from Israel Military Industries, tests showed a failure rate of bomblets of 2.3%.

He is keen however to make clear that remaining cluster munitions as with all our weapons will continue to be regulated by rules of engagement and internal scrutiny procedures designed to adhere to international law and reflect humanitarian values.

Lord "Alf" Dubs, a man who refelct the finest humanitarian values, introduced the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill [HL] on 23 Nov 2006 : Column 431 Hansard which was read and ignored. The bill would prohibit the use, development, production, acquisition, possession, and transfer of cluster munitions. The bill’s definition of cluster munition excludes containers with sensor fuzed submunitions “which autonomously detect and engage military targets and which self-destruct, self-deactivate or self neutralise.”

(Alf is a remarkable man, and a sincere humanist. he was born in Prague, (then in Czechoskovakia,) he was (unknowingly) one of 669 Czech, mainly Jewish children saved by English stockbroker (now Sir) Nicholas Winton (then 29) on the Kindertransport. to be joined in London by his mother the day before the war broke out. Which he was only to discover late in life when a relative saw his name on an Esther Rantzen TV programme.)

The Handicap International charity said civilians accounted for 98% of cluster-bomb casualties.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere (pic) called for a conference when the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) failed in November 2006 to agree on a mandate and convened the Norwegian Initiative Conference which was was held in Oslo , 22/23rd February.

The Norwegian Armed Forces have utilised two kinds of "smart" cargo ammunition: DM 642 and DM 662. 155 mm artillery Howitzers deliver both types. There are respectively 63 and 49 bomblets in each type of shell.

Tests showed a failure rate if at least 1% and they have withdrawn their use until an international agreement has been made on the use of such munitions.

Finland has decided to continue to use them, there tests have shown a failure rate of 0.2%.

The Human Rights Watch report on Cluster Weapons makes fascinating reading ....

Cluster munitions are particularly ubiquitous in the stores of US ground forces. According to the DOD report, the Army has about 638.3 million cluster submunitions (88 percent of the total inventory) and the Marine Corps has about 53.3 million (7 percent). The report states, “Cannon and rocket artillery cluster munitions comprise over 80% of Army fire support capability,” and they “comprise the bulk of the Marine Corps artillery munitions.”294 The Air Force stockpiles about 22.2 million air-delivered cluster bombs (3 percent of the cluster inventory) and the Navy about 14.7 million (2 percent).

Of the 728 million submunitions, only 30,990 have self-destruct devices (.00004 percent).295The DOD report cites failure rates of 2 to 6 percent for most of the submunitions, based on lot acceptance testing and stockpile reliability testing. Previous DOD documents have indicated much higher failure rates for the most common submunitions.296 Organizations involved in unexploded ordnance clearance in various countries also cite higher failure rates.

294 - Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, “Report to Congress: Cluster Munitions,” p. 2-3.

295 - These are CBU-97 and CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons (SFW) held by the Air Force and Navy. The Army’s SADARM cluster munitions, which are similar to SFW, are not included in the DOD report.

296 - See Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Department of Defense, “Unexploded Ordnance Report,” undated, table 2-3, p. 5. Transmitted to the US Congress on February 29, 2000.

The Israeli contribution to the manufacture (and use) of these weapons that are so lethal to civilians is quite fascinating.... Read it.

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