Cluster bombs are specifically designed to kill human beings. They’re released in the form of single large bombs which then open to release clouds of smaller bombs that are supposed to explode over a large area, ripping apart the bodies of large numbers of people within a particular area.
Cluster bombs are devastatingly effective as military weapon, but sometimes, they aren’t used against military targets. Cluster bombs are also effective at killing large numbers of civilians. Even when the intention is to attack the military of an enemy, cluster bombs often end up killing civilians as well. That’s because large numbers of the smaller bombs released by cluster bombs don’t explode. They sit on the ground, until they’re stumbled upon by civilians. Often, curious children are the victims, maimed or killed when they pick up bombs that have been left behind after an air strike near where they live.
The United States of America is one of the larger sources of cluster bombs, selling the bombs for use by foreign militaries that are far beyond the regulation of the U.S. Congress.
This month, two Democrats and one Republican from the U.S. House of Representatives have teamed up deal with this problem. James McGovern, Charles Boustany, and Darrell Issa have introduced H. R. 881, the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act. The legislation, if passed, would prohibit federal spending on cluster bombs unless the bombs are certified to have an initial successful detonation rate of at least 99 percent, and plans for the retrieval of unexploded bombs are created.
The bill has been referred to the House Armed Services Committee.