On March 10th Congress passed an omnibus budget bill that created a permanent ban on nearly all US cluster bomb exports. The legislation states that cluster munitions can only be exported if they leave behind less than one percent of their submunitions as duds, and if the receiving country agrees that cluster munitions “will not be used where civilians are known to be present.” President Obama signed the bill into law the next day.

For background, cluster bombs, a favorite munition of the Bush Administration, are especially gruesome weapons of terror, dispersing hundreds of small bomblets over a wide, indiscriminate area. Each of these sub-munitions is supposed to detonate when it hits the ground, spraying deadly shrapnel. The Friends Committee on National Legislation has done a unique and harrowing service with a new tool combining google maps with a customized overlay that allows you to find out what a cluster bombing would do to your neighborhood. How wide an area would be sprayed with deadly shrapnel? How many unexploded bomblets would litter the area, waiting for the touch of a hand or foot? Expected civilian casualties? Find out here.

This video shows what cluster bombs have done to real people.

Now that Congress has banned the export of cluster bombs, it’s time to take the next step and join most of the rest of the world in banning the use of these deadly weapons. That’s what the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act (S. 416) seeks to do. Introduced in February, nearly twenty percent of all Senators have already signed on to S. 416. Are your senators on board? If not, urge them to co-sponsor and work for the legislation’s passage. Click here to send a letter.

The United States is one of only a handful of nations which didn’t sign the Oslo ban on cluster bombs late last year, and which has employed the weapons in recent wars, so this legislation could have a major impact in stemming civilian casualties.

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