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1 Poland Sees Nothing Wrong in Cluster Bombs 2008,86871,5674037,Poland_Sees_Nothing_Wrong_in_Cluster_Bombs.html

If Polish troops at Nangar Khel had used cluster munitions, there would have been no witnesses of the fatal operation, says a domestic producer of cluster munitions. Poland doesn't intend, for now at least, to sign the Dublin Convention prohibiting their us.

The convention, prohibiting the trade, production and use of cluster munitions has been endorsed by over 100 countries so far, including major EU member states such as France, the UK, Germany, or Netherlands. It is to be formally signed in Oslo in December. From then on, the signatory countries' armed forces will stop using the highly imprecise munitions, which, if they don't explode at once, can kill innocent people even years later. Poland hasn't endorsed the convention and is also a producer of cluster bombs.

They are made by a defence plant called Kraśnik, and can be viewed at the company's stand at the Defence Industry Salon in Kielce.
'We make cluster munitions for two kinds of missiles - 98 mm mortar and 122 mm artillery. They can be launched from a tank gun or a cannon', says Kraśnik chief executive Dariusz Szlafka.

'Polish troops at Nangar Khel in Afghanistan had mortar missiles with cluster munitions. Officers later said that if they had used them, there wouldn't have been any witnesses of the massacre. Why? Because the whole village would have ceased to exist'.

Mr Szlafka presents a missile. Inside there is a rail, and around it, smaller casings filled with explosive. The 98 mm missile has nine of these, the 122 mm one - fifteen.

'It's so powerful it can destroy an infantry unit, a building, a vehicle, even puncture a runway', stresses Mr Szlafka. 'The primary missile explodes above the target. The distance can be set by the cannon operator and depending on it, the submunitions cover a greater or smaller area. A single submunition covers an estimated 100 sq m. Besides exploding, cluster bombs consume oxygen, killing those who have survived the explosion itself'.

Mr Szlafka again quotes soldiers: 'You can perhaps survive in a building, but no one would want to be out in the open during a shelling'.

How much cluster munitions does Kraśnik produce? 'Not much, but I can't say precisely', says Mr Szlafka. 'Let me only say it's about 10 percent of what the army buys as conventional weapons. Because this is not a training weapon. You only take it to missions, and even there it's used very seldom. Besides, it's expensive. A single one costs more than PLN10,000'.

Mr Szlafka stresses that his company's only customer are the Polish armed forces. He also adds that over 99 percent of cluster munitions explode right after being fired. Those that do not represent, according to him, just 0.1 percent of the total.

Defence Minister Bogdan Klich, asked by Gazeta in Kielce why Poland hasn't endorsed the Dublin Convention, said laconically, 'This isn't just a whim. We need those weapons to defend our territory. In fact, a debate has been going on about this type of munitions'.

The military sees nothing wrong in using cluster bombs.

'There are no humanitarian weapons', Chief of General Staff Gen Franciszek Gągor tells Gazeta. 'Our munitions have inbuilt security features. If a missile doesn't explode, it will go into autodestruct mode after a specified period of time. So while this isn't a "humanitarian" weapon, it's a selective one. There's no possibility of it killing a person who happens upon an unexploded shell like this'.

Amnesty International believes otherwise. It has launched a campaign against the use of cluster munitions.

'According to what we know, as many as 40 percent of such bombs don't explode at once. They stay on the ground and then kill innocent people', says Monika Deptuła, AI spokesperson in Poland. 'The company producing these is interested in quoting its own figures. We believe this type of weapons is highly imprecise'.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This Chief of General Staff is playing dumb if he that stupid he should be replaced, if he insulting everybody's intelligence, he should be court marshalled..!
All figures indicate that cluster bombs have a high ratio of becoming duds, in other words,land mines ready to explode and kill innocent civilians years after the cease-fire.