A US-led push to regulate, rather than ban, cluster munitions has failed at a UN meeting in Geneva following objection from 50 countries.
The US-backed plan was seeking new rules about the manufacture and use of cluster bombs. A senior US official said cluster munitions were a military necessity. But human rights groups say an international convention banning such bombs already exists and there is no need for new regulations.
A total of 111 UN member states have already signed up to the Oslo convention prohibiting the production, transfer, and use of cluster munitions. The US, Russia and China have not yet signed the document.
Press TV talks with Hisham Jaber, director of the Center for Middle East Studies in Beirut about the US position on the forbidden cluster munitions issue. Following is the transcript of the interview:
Press TV: Why would the US want to regulate the use and manufacture of cluster munitions?
Jaber: For decades, many prohibited weapons have been used in the war especially by the supposed to be respectable states like the United States and we have experience in Vietnam and in Iraq and now in Afghanistan and also they did provide israel with this kind of weapons and this kind of bombs.
According to the Geneva Agreement and to the Oslo Convention later, those weapons are forbidden because they kill civilians and civilians are not supposed to be a target in any war.
Who respects this? And who punishes whom? That is the question. The United States did not sign that treaty (The Oslo Convention) and also as your report said [about] Russia and also israel refused to sign any treaty starting from the NPT (Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty) to cluster bombs and these kinds of weapons, which are forbidden and provoke a lot of loss and we have experience in Lebanon when israel used this type of bomb and from 2006 until now, israel has dropped more than one million cluster bombs on Lebanon. Now we estimate the number of people who have been killed or injured –the victims– more than 3,000.
We are still looking for these kinds of forbidden bombs (unexploded) in South Lebanon and we still have victims day after day and no one, [neither] the United States [nor] the international community, have made even a speech against this.
That’s the situation and you are asking me why the United States is continuing to produce these kinds of bombs?
Also, we heard a few days ago that the United States did produce a new huge bomb called MOB; a heavy 13-ton-[bomb], which can destroy and go 20 meters underground, then absorb the oxygen and kill everybody who can be there. Imagine hundreds of civilians could be in a war in a shelter and this kind of bomb (MOB) produced recently by the United States can kill all of them.
We will not be surprised in a few years to see that israel has been provided with this kind of weapon from America.
Press TV: The US has also called for an extension of scrapping its chemical weapons. Why is the US not maintaining its obligations and international commitments? Why is it constantly failing to live up to them?
Jaber: It’s a very good question. I used to study in the United States at NBC, a Nuclear Biological and Chemical facility, and there I remember we learned that many rules are respected in this kind of war and in the use of NBC i.e. nuclear, chemical and biological [warfare].
Now you ask me why the United States doesn’t respect those limits and conditions to use this kind of weapons. [It is] because the United States is now the only power in the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
At that time, we had a kind of balance or equilibrium to respect and not to destroy the world. But now the United States is the strongest power – almost the only power – and nobody will ask the United States why it is doing this and nobody can punish the United States starting from the United Nations or the international community.
Russia maybe has its own interests sometimes and also Russia has the same policy sometimes and did not sign those treaties we are talking about.
The United States will continue to provide this kind of chemical weapons and maybe biological because they made a treaty with Russia to minimize the number of nuclear weapons only, according to the NPT, but they did not discuss the situation which is also very dangerous, which is biological and chemical weapons, which could be used without any limits; without any control.