Persian Gulf: U.S. Cluster Bomb Duds A Threat
Warning Against Use of Cluster Bombs in Iraq
(Washington, March 18, 2003) Dangerous explosive duds from cluster munitions used by allied forces in the 1991 Persian Gulf War are still being found and destroyed in Kuwait at the startling rate of 200 per month, according to official documents obtained by Human Rights Watch.
Documents from the Kuwait Ministry of Defense show that 2,400 explosive cluster munition duds were found and destroyed in Kuwait in 2002, and a similar number the previous year.
"The use of cluster munitions in Iraq will endanger civilians for years to come," said Mark Hiznay, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the new briefing paper. "Cluster bombs also threaten U.S. and friendly soldiers during combat."
Human Rights Watch has issued detailed analyses of the U.S. use of cluster bombs in the Persian Gulf War, in Kosovo, and in Afghanistan.
During the 1991 Gulf War, the United States and its allied coalition dropped bombs containing about twenty million submunitions, and also reportedly fired artillery projectiles containing more than thirty million submunitions. These resulted in millions of hazardous duds, each functioning like an indiscriminate antipersonnel landmine.
At least eighty U.S. casualties during the war were attributed to cluster munition duds. More than 4,000 civilians have been killed or injured by cluster munition duds since the end of the war.
Human Rights Watch called attention to four particular types of U.S. cluster munitions that have had high failure rates in combat or in testing:
The United States has cluster munitions containing more than one billion submunitions in current stockpiles, including more than 434 million 155mm DPICM artillery submunitions and more than 309 million MLRS rocket submunitions.
Human Rights Watch has called for a global moratorium on use of cluster munitions until the humanitarian problems are addressed. Short of that commitment, Human Rights Watch urges that the United States, United Kingdom, and others that may deploy cluster munitions in Iraq take the following steps: