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Ban cluster bombs! For real, please!

September 18, 2006

Many prominent Norwegians have been among the harshest critics of Israel’s use of cluster bombs in Lebanon. Unfortunately, Norwegian protests against the use of cluster bombs ring rather hollow as the Norwegian military still has a large number of these munitions in stock.

Norwegian atuhorities are now planning to test these awful weapons at the controversial military training and testing range at Hjerkinn, to strong protests from Norwegian green movements Nature and Youth and Friends of the Earth Norway (norwegian text).

Double Damage

I wholeheartedly support the protests from Nature and Youth for two reasons:

  1. For the last century or so, an ever increasing percentage of war victims have been civilians. The example of Lebanon shows quite clearly that cluster bombs are horribly effective at killing civilians. Scores of them. Even after the war is over. According to The Independent, at least 83 people have been killed by cluster munitions since the ceasefire between Israel and Hisbollah on august 14. Does the Norwegian military really want to have such a weapon in its arsenal? If they do, why? Is there even a remote possibility that Norwegian forces will be involved in similar atrocities as those in Southern Lebanon?
  2. Figures from The Independent show that 30% of bomblets from cluster bombs do not explode on impact, but become lethal anti personnel mines, killing and maiming years after the original conflict is over. The firing range at Hjerkinn is due to be abandoned in 2008. Do the Norwegian military really want to create a minefield in the Norwegian nature for decades after this?

It is time to ban this most gruesome weapon. For real. And the place to start is right here in our own country.

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