Feickert Specialist in Military Ground Forces
Paul K. Kerr Analyst in Nonproliferation
munitions are air-dropped or ground-launched weapons that release a number of
smaller submunitions intended to kill enemy personnel or destroy vehicles.
Cluster munitions were developed in World War II and are part of many
nations’ weapons stockpiles. Cluster munitions have been used frequently
in combat, including the early phases of the current conflicts in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Cluster munitions have been highly criticized internationally for
causing a significant number of civilian deaths, and efforts have been
undertaken to ban and regulate their use. The Department of Defense (DOD)
continues to view cluster munitions as a military necessity but has
instituted a policy to reduce the failure rate of cluster munitions to 1% or
less by 2018.
There are two major international initiatives to address cluster munitions: the
Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) and negotiations under the U.N.
Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional
Weapons (CCW). The Obama Administration has reiterated U.S. opposition to
the CCM, which entered into force August 1, 2010, but is participating in
negotiations regarding cluster munitions under the CCW.
Date of Report: June 27, 2012
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