Sat, Jul 05, 2008 - Page 3 News List

MND says Taiwan is ready to make cluster-bombs

By Hsu Shao-Hsuen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Because China has never signed a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs, to maximize its military position, Taiwan will continue to include the weapons in its arsenal, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said on Thursday.

While the majority of Taiwan’s cluster bombs are imported, the ministry said that the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology has made the necessary preparations to independently manufacture the bombs.

TREATY

Cluster bombs often kill innocent civilians.

On May 28, 124 countries reached an agreement on a treaty in Dublin, Ireland, that will ban the use of cluster bombs internationally. This treaty will most likely be signed in Oslo, Norway, at the end of this year.

However, the world’s main users and manufacturers of cluster bombs, including China, the US, Israel, India and Russia are against moves to ban the weapons and are not likely to sign the treaty.

A cluster bomb is loaded with smaller bomblets, which are sprayed across a wide area and are capable of causing massive damage at distances of up to 25m.

Unexploded cluster bombs left behind after attacks have killed many innocent civilians and have therefore drawn much international attention.

TAIWAN’S ARSENAL

Military officials said half of Taiwan’s RT2000 (Thunder) multiple launch rocket systems are packed with high-explosive shell types, while the other half are packed with cluster bombs.

Taiwan would use cluster bombs to attack ships in waters close to Taiwan. The bombs are dispersed across the surface of the ocean and should therefore pose no threat to civilians, the ministry said.

While cluster bombs will continue to be included in Taiwan’s arsenal for the time being, high-explosive shell bombs will be used in place of cluster bombs if the international ban succeeds.

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