Berlin backs cluster bomb ban

In a policy turnaround, Germany on Thursday agreed to join a ban on cluster bombs following international agreement outlawing the controversial ordnance.

Berlin backs cluster bomb ban
Photo: DPA

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung announced in Berlin that the German military destroy its remaining stockpile of cluster bombs as soon as possible – meaning a phase-out over several years.

Negotiators from more than 100 countries forged a breakthrough on Wednesday night in Dublin on a treaty banning cluster bombs – small, airborne bomblets used against personnel, infrastructure and vehicles.

“We will sign the convention in early December in Oslo and will ratify it as soon as possible,” Steinmeier and Jung said in a joint statement.

The German Defence Ministry had previously only ruled out cluster weapons that have a high rate of unexploded units. Such duds can be highly dangerous to civilian populations for years to come.

According to the daily Berliner Zeitung, Jung told German MPs earlier that there was not enough alternative ordnance available by 2015 for Berlin to follow a British decision to ban cluster bombs entirely. Otherwise Germany could not fulfill its obligations to NATO allies like the United States.

The British government said this week the United States will no longer be allowed to keep cluster bombs at bases in the United Kingdom after diplomats hammered out the treaty in the Irish capital Dublin.