Cluster bombs are typically fired from artillery or dropped from planes, exploding in mid-air and releasing hundreds of smaller bombs scattered over a large area. Delegates from 111 countries have signed a new treaty at the close of a 12 day meeting in Dublin, Ireland that bans the “use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster bombs.” It also requires signatories to destroy their cluster bomb munitions within eight years and to assist in clearing any contaminated areas. With the release of so many bombs, many times some do not explode at first strike, only to wind up killing or wounding civilians in the area months or years later. The United States opposes the ban along with Israel, China, India and Pakistan, all of whom boycotted the meeting. The United States is the largest manufacturer of the bombs, and though officials express concern about unexploded bomblets, they are more in favor of developing technology that would render the bombs harmless after a certain time period.
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