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Delegates From 111 Countries Sign Treaty Banning Cluster Bombs


Delegates from 111 countries have formally adopted a comprehensive ban on cluster bombs.

The treaty comes at the close of a 12-day meeting Friday in Dublin and bans the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster bombs. It requires signatories to destroy their stocks within eight years and to assist in clearing contaminated areas.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the development and urged all countries to sign the pact without delay.

The United States - one of the world's largest cluster bomb makers - opposes a ban. It boycotted the Dublin conference, along with Israel, Russia, China, India and Pakistan.

In a compromise aimed at pleasing NATO, countries that sign the treaty will still be allowed to have military cooperation with those that do not.

Cluster bombs are fired from artillery or dropped from planes. They explode in mid-air and scatter hundreds of smaller bombs over a wide area. The bomblets that do not explode on impact can remain active for long periods, and frequently kill or maim unsuspecting civilians months and even years later.

Speakers at the Dublin conference say they are happy that the treaty helps stigmatize the weapon.

U.S. officials say they also are concerned about the dangers unexploded bomblets pose to civilians. But they say the weapons are still needed, and should be upgraded so that the unexploded bomblets become harmless after a certain period.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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