Britain gave US `exception` on cluster bombs: WikiLeaks

Britain offered the US a deal to keep stocks of cluster bombs on its territory despite London signing up to an international ban on the weapons.

Last Updated: Dec 02, 2010, 23:07 PM IST

London: Britain offered the United States
a deal to keep stocks of cluster bombs on its territory
despite London signing up to an international ban on the
weapons, a US cable leaked by WikiLeaks said on Thursday.

The diplomatic note dated May 2009 also reveals the
two powers agreed to keep the deal quiet to avoid
"complicating" a debate over the ratification of the
Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) in the British
parliament.

The United States has refused to sign up to the
convention, which was prompted by concerns of the impact of
the bombs on civilians. It came into force on August 1 this
year.

The leaked cable says ministers urged the United
States to move out all their stockpiles by a deadline of 2013.

But it said: "In answer to queries about the
case-by-case temporary storage exception for specific
missions... (Foreign Office officials) confirmed that the
concept was accepted at highest levels of the government, as
that idea has been included in the draft letter from Minister
Miliband to Secretary Clinton."

It referred to the then Foreign Secretary David
Miliband and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The leaked cable added that while all cluster
munitions would have to be moved out after 2013, "any new
cluster munitions the USG (Washington) wanted to bring to
those sites after the treaty`s entry into force for the UK --
either before or after 2013 -- would require the temporary
exception".

This included any movement of cluster munitions from
ships on the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian
Ocean.

A senior Foreign Office official said it would be
better if the final agreement on the proposal was kept quiet
until the CCM was passed.

He was quoted as saying: "It would be better for the
USG and HMG (Her Majesty`s Government) not to reach final
agreement on this temporary agreement understanding until
after the CCM ratification process is completed in parliament,
so that they can tell parliamentarians that they have
requested the USG to remove its cluster munitions by 2013,
without complicating/muddying the debate by having to indicate
that this request is open to exceptions."

PTI