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19 May 2008

No more excuses on cluster bomb ban

John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today called on Gordon Brown to sign up to a comprehensive ban on cluster bombs after the UK Government was accused of blocking progress towards a groundbreaking international treaty.

Mr Barrett made the call at the start of the cluster munitions conference which starts in Dublin today.. Any treaty agreed would be the most significant arms control treaty for more than a decade. Campaigners and senior diplomats have accused the UK of blocking efforts to secure a comprehensive ban.

Although designed to explode on impact, in practice as many 40% of cluster bombs fail to detonate, often rendering large areas of land too dangerous to inhabit and killing civilians.

Mr Barrett, who has previously been a backer of a Westminster Bill to ban cluster munitions said:

“Gordon Brown promised last year to work towards an international ban on weapons that cause unacceptable harm to civilians and yet now we learn that it is the UK Government that is blocking international efforts to ban these horrific weapons.

“In Iraq our own armed forces used a total of 113,000 of these weapons. Like landmines before them these weapons are militarily obsolete, indiscriminate and provide a death-trap for civilians. Our armed forces deserve better than to be provided with such outdated and morally dubious weapons.

“Cluster bombs were designed to stop Soviet tanks in the Cold War. There is simply no place for them in the type of warfare we are engaged in today and the threats we will face tomorrow. There is no tactical or moral argument for keeping these weapons. For the government to be blocking an international treaty in this way is utterly reprehensible.”

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This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.