By David Stenerud
103 million Norwegian Kroner (NOK): That is, according to the recent annual report the sum the Norwegian National Bank (Norges Bank), on behalf of you and me, has found it sensable to place in one of the worlds greatest weapons companies, General Dynamics Corp.. The weapons giant manufactures products ranging fram nuclear sub-marines to small arms ammunition. But it is within the sub-division Genral Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS) that the, at current, most controversial production is taking plase. Her happens namely the manufacturing of most essential parts for the type of cluster bombs the Americans have let down over Afganistan since late 2001.
To be more specific; GD-OTS produces the feared bottle-like, yellow bomblet-bodies. There are 202 of those in each of the most common type of cluster bombs, the so-called CBU-87. Assembled with percussion tubes, the company ships the bomblet-bodies forward to another company, Aerojet Ordnance, where they are made complete granades (so-called BLU-97). After that the bomblets are capsled in clusters at Allient Tech Systems, which in turn makes the deliveries to the US military and approved overseas imorters.
The most dangerous parts
GD-OTS brags freely on its website, about the company's impotance and authority in the production of the CBU-87 bombs.
One one the formost experts on cluster bombs in Europe confirms:
- The components that General Dynamics produces become essential parts in the cluster bombs, ane they are unike for the purpose, said Richard Lloyd to NorWatch. Lloyd is the head of the London-based organisation Land Mine Action (LMA).
In Mr. Lloyds view, the small yellow, bottle-like containers what makes cluster bombs especially dangerous:
-These are left undetonated on the ground, resembling small bottles of lemonade, with a clear yelow colour that we know are attractive ti children. They can go off at the mildest touch, the LMA-leader told NorWatch.
50 post war dead
The Red Cross have figured that an average of 7 percent of the granades in the CBU-87 bombs that were droped from US military aircrafts over Kosovo did not explode.
- In Afganistan the ground is softer, so we expect that as many as 10 percent of the bomblets fails to explode here, Richard Lloyd told NorWatch.
During the post-war period in Kosovo (war ended summer of '99), Red Cross figures says at least 50 peolpe have lost their lifes due to undetonated bottle-granades from cluster bombs. In addition 101 people have been reported indured.
LMA have no knowledge at present about the number of casualties from undetonated cluster bomblets in Afganistan. In April, the organisation sent a technical adviser to the war-torn area in order to try and determine the exess of the damages. It should be significant:
On November 16 2001 Human Rights Watch reported that the Americans had droped 350 CBU-87 cluster bombs over Afganistan, that is more than 70 000 BLU-97 granades. Richard Lloyds claimed before NorWatch that the figure now is much higher:
- We belive that some 250 000 bomblets have hit afghan land, said the LMA leader. That might mean as many as 25 000 potential death traps.
Ban cluster bombs!
Land Mine Action, along with powerfull international organisations such as The International Red Cross, The International Campaign to Ban Land Mines (ICBL), Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) and several other NGOs, have called for a total ban on all kinds of cluster bombs.
Even though there are different views on whether or not these bombs in principal violates International Law, there is broad agreement that undetonated bomlets that kill innocent people is indeed a Peoples’ Right issue.
Norwegian prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik said in a speach before the Parliament on November 8 2001, that the Government work with the aim of "creating a fundament for banning certain kinds of cluster bombs."
The Norwegian Peoples Aid General Secretary, Eva Bjøreng, reacted strongly on Norwatchs findings.
- There aren't more to say, than that this is a disgrace, she said.
Bjøreng thinks this goes to show that Øystein Djupedal of the Social Left indeed had a point, when he, after their cluster-blunder last year, said the much riddiculed: "We might just as well have been right".
- The greatest shame is not that there are cluster bomb investments. It is rather the fact that so insufficient investigations are made into the companies it's being invested in, that things like this can be revealed. Norway has to have so high ethical standards on its financial placements, that this cannot happen, Bjøreng said.
- If the Government wants to keep its dignity, they must not bow their heads for a Minister of Finance who says that this is not that simple.
- 'Cause it is that simple, says the NPA-leader.
Norwatch Newsletter 7-8/02