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Britain to Ban 'Dumb' Cluster Bombs


Britain has ordered its military to stop using cluster bombs that lack self-destruct mechanisms - a measure aimed at saving civilians.

Defense Secretary Des Browne says the British military will immediately halt any use of those cluster bombs. The bombs disperse smaller munitions over a large area, but they do not always explode on impact and can remain a threat to civilians long after any conflict.

Browne says Britain will use only cluster bombs that have a mechanism to destroy the smaller munitions if they do not explode on initial impact.

Last month at a conference in Norway, 46 countries pledged to seek a treaty banning cluster bombs by next year.

But some of the biggest users and producers of the munitions, including the United States and Israel, did not attend.

Israel used U.S.-made cluster bombs during the fight against Hezbollah in Lebanon last year.

Opponents of the ban say the use of cluster bombs is already covered under a 1980 United Nations Treaty on Conventional Weapons.

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