Wednesday, April 2
Above the Law and Below Morality: Data on 11 Weeks of U.S. Cluster-Bombing of Afghanistan
['shining like a diamond,' death comes in a little yellow soda can]
Professor Marc W. Herold (Ph.D., M.B.A., B.Sc),, February 1, 2002

"SOME OF the most savage weapons of modern warfare." That’s how one BBC journalist described cluster bombs, the U.S. military’s latest weapon of choice in Afghanistan. It's also deadly and cheap.

On October 10th, 2001, U.S. B-52s and B-1s began dropping deadly 1,000 lb. CBU-87 [$14,000 a bomb] and the wind-corrected CBU-103 cluster [fragmentation] bombs upon "soft targets" [vehicles and people] in Afghanistan.

Eleven weeks later, U.S.planes had dropped 1,210 cluster bombs, each containing 202 BLU-97 bomblets. The British Halo Trust now estimates on the basis of groundwork in the vales of Afghanistan that 20% of the bomblets failed to explode, meaning 48,884 yellow soda-can sized, yellow-colored deadly sub-munitions now litter the villages, paths and fields of Afghanistan.

During the Kosovo air campaign, U.S. and allied planes dropped 1,392 cluster bombs, with a reported fail rate of 8-12%. In the Gulf War, Allied forces dropped 62,000 air-delivered cluster bombs. The British group, Landmine Action, says that over 13 million bomblets were used in the 1991 Gulf War and 1.2 million explosive duds cover Iraq and Kuwait. Pentagon estimates suggest some 285 million such sub-munitions were dropped on Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.

A favorite U.S. weapon used in Afghanistan has been the 1,000 lb CBU-87 cluster bomb with its 202 BLU-97 bomblets. The BLU-97 cluster bomblet is one of the cheapest air-delivered weapons available, costing only ~$60 per unit. Unlike most American mines, cluster bomblets are not designed to break down over time as this would raise their low cost.3A single BLU-97 bomblet kills anyone within a 50 meter radius and severely injures a person within 100 meters. It is considered more dangerous than a conventional land mine. Peter Le Sueur, technical adviser to the UN's Mine Action Program Afghanistan [MAPA] describes this weapon,

"the BLU 97 had three purposes -- to destroy armoured vehicles, kill people with shrapnel fragments and ignite fires in military targets such as munition dumps or oil depots."

According to Le Sueur, one of its most savage features is its six-millimetre diamond-patterned steel jacket. "When the bomb explodes, the steel splits so you get hundreds of high-velocity steel fragments travelling at the speed of a rifle bullet. "They can kill or injure people from over 100 metres (330 feet) from the point of detonation". [...]
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