MADRID – The Spanish armed forces already have eliminated their arsenals of cluster bombs, the defense minister announced Wednesday in Parliament, fulfilling three months early Spain’s promise made last December to divest itself of the weapons before June.
Carme Chacon made the announcement to reporters after the lower house ratified the May 2008 Dublin Convention, by which 111 countries, including Spain, committed themselves to eliminating any cluster bombs they possessed within a maximum of 12 months.
Last July, Chacon reported to Parliament that the destruction of the 5,589 cluster bombs in Spanish territory would cost about 4 million euros ($5.25 million).
Cluster bombs are considered very dangerous and lethal because they deploy in the air as they fall toward the target, spreading hundreds of bomblets about the size of a soft drink can, many of which do not explode when they hit the ground but act as mines.
“We’ll be among the first to completely eliminate cluster bombs,” Chacon said last December during a visit to state-owned Fabricaciones Extremeñas, or FAEX, near the western city of Caceres, where some 6,000 cluster bombs and fragmenting mortar shells were in the process of being destroyed.
The elimination of the cluster bombs, according to FAEX projections at the time, could move forward faster and be completed by the end of March.
“It’s our intention to finish the job before April 1,” the chairman of FAEX parent Sociedad EXPAL, Adm. Francisco Torrente, said, meaning that the project would be completed before the June 20, 2009, deadline.
The defense minister was more cautious, saying that “in half a year, in June, there will be no cluster bombs in Spain,” except for a few that will be used for training explosives experts to disarm the devices. EFE