France says cluster bomb stockpile destroyed ahead of schedule

France has destroyed its entire stockpile of cluster munitions two years ahead of schedule, the government said Thursday, urging other countries to follow suit.

Paris: France has destroyed its entire stockpile of cluster munitions two years ahead of schedule, the government said Thursday, urging other countries to follow suit.

The destruction of the stockpile, composed of multiple launch rockets systems and artillery shells, "was completed two years ahead of the deadline provided by the Olso Convention," the foreign and defence ministries said in a joint statement.

France is one of over 100 countries signed up to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans all use, production, transfer and stockpiling of the controversial weapons.

The last time France used cluster bombs was during the 1991 Gulf War and it stopped manufacturing them in 2002, it said.

Cluster bombs are estimated to have killed or wounded tens of thousands of civilians globally.

They can be dropped from planes or fired from artillery and spread hundreds of sub-munitions, or "bomblets", over a wide area.

As many of these devices fail to explode on impact, countries often have a difficult job clearing their territory of what become de facto landmines.

The bomblets are often brightly coloured and in some cases look like tennis balls, posing a threat to children who pick them up thinking they are toys.

"France strongly condemns the use of cluster munitions, which can have particularly grave consequences for civilian populations both during and after conflicts," the French statement said.

"(France) calls on all states that have not yet ratified the Oslo Convention to join it in fully implementing its various provisions," it added.

Military powers such as China, Russia, the United States and Israel are not signed up to the treaty.

In 2013, aid group Handicap International condemned the "increased use" of cluster bombs by President Bashar al-Assad`s regime in Syria.

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