You may have heard of land mines but not of cluster bombs. Instead of being placed in the ground, cluster bombs are containers filed with smaller bombs that are dropped from the air or fired from land or sea. They open in midair and the bomblets then spread over a large area, killing or injuring those on the ground, regardless of whether they are combatants or civilians. Like unexploded land mines, they are a continuing lethal threat to all living in the area, particularly children who often think they are toys.
One, he should sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions and urge the Senate to see that it is ratified promptly. This international treaty prohibits cluster munitions, requires clearance of areas contaminated by unexploded cluster bomb duds, and establishes ground-breaking provisions for assistance to victims of these weapons. Once 30 countries have ratified the treaty (and 23 have done so as of today), the Convention becomes binding in six months.
Two, President Obama should ask the U.S. Department of Defense to ensure that U.S.-made cluster munitions are not used in or near civilian populated areas, whether used by the U.S. or our allies.
Three, he should provide increased assistance for programs focused on unexploded ordnance clearance.