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US Will Send ‘Cluster Bombs’ to Ukraine With Conditions

The United States will send so-called “cluster munitions” to Ukraine in its ongoing fight to drive Russian forces out of the country.

Colin H. Kahl, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, said the United States has agreed to provide the controversial munitions after determining they have a “dud rate” of 2.5 percent and getting assurances from Ukrainian leaders on how the weapons will be used.

“We’ve gotten these assurances in writing,” Mr. Kahl said during a Pentagon press briefing on July 7.

Mr. Kahl said the United States would send standard 105 mm artillery shells and Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM). He would not say how many of the devices would be sent.

DPICM are cluster munitions fired from artillery.

Epoch Times Photo
Dr. Colin Kahl, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, is seen in a file photograph. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Cluster munitions open midair and release smaller bombs over a wide area to strike several targets simultaneously. They can be delivered by planes, artillery, and missiles.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the “bomblets” reportedly have failed to explode up to 40 percent of the time in some recent conflicts, according to the ICRC. When that happens, the unexploded bomblets become a hazard.

Proponents of banning cluster bombs say they kill indiscriminately and endanger civilians long after use. Hundreds of civilians, including children, have been injured and killed by unexploded bomblets.

Mr. Kahl said the munitions to be sent are newer and more reliable than those used in previous conflicts. He said the failure rate for the new munitions is down to 2.5 percent. He added that Ukrainians would have to deal with the cluster munitions even if the United States did nothing.

He said the Russian military has been dispersing bombs with a 30 to 40 percent dud rate. Human Rights Watch has reported hundreds of cluster bomb attacks by Russian forces and at least one by Ukrainian troops.

Cluster Munitions Already an Issue

“This is an issue the Ukrainians will have to grapple with regardless,” Mr. Kahl said.

The Ukrainians have agreed to limit the use of the munitions to sparsely populated areas to record where they are used so unexploded bomblets can be retrieved after the war.

U.S. law prohibits transferring cluster munitions with a dud rate greater than 1 percent.

However, Kahl said the president has the legal authority to waive that requirement. President Joe Biden decided to green-light the deal after talking with congressional leaders and officials from other countries.

“We did not make a unilateral decision; we are not breaking the law,” Mr. Kahl said.

According to Mr. Kahl, this move will do more to protect Ukrainians in the long run.

“The worst thing for civilians in Ukraine is for Russia to win the war,” Mr. Kahl said.

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