US refuses to disclose details on cluster munitions sent to Ukraine
Even if Washington provided answers to these questions, the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine would still be "unacceptable," a HRW official said.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) arms advocacy director Mary Wareham told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that the US has not yet disclosed the types of cluster munitions it has sent to Ukraine or the conditions under which they were transferred.
"We still do not have complete information about the exact types of cluster munitions that the US is transferring. That matters, because from that you can tell what the dud rate is, how many are likely to fail," the HRW arms advocacy director said.
"We don't know the quantity that has been transferred, the period of time in which they were being transferred, when will the transfers end, or how are they transferred to Ukraine. Were they taken from military bases on the soil of a European country or did they go through the airspace over the territory of a country that has joined the treaty?" Wareham said, referring to the 1997 convention banning anti-personnel mines.
The official added that even if Washington provided answers to these questions, the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine would still be "unacceptable" because it puts civilian lives at risk.
"The vast majority of victims of cluster munitions are civilians and, unfortunately, children account for 70% of the victims from the remnants of cluster munitions. Not so much from the attacks, that's harder for us to document ... We completely opposed the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine," Wareham said.
In July, the Biden administration's first military assistance package for Ukraine included cluster munitions, a controversial weapon that has been criticized by human rights activists and opposed by some US lawmakers.
Cluster munitions are indiscriminate weapons that do not have self-destruct devices. This means that up to 14% of the submunitions in a cluster munition can fail to explode on impact, posing a threat to civilians for years after the conflict has ended.
Ukraine became a party to the Ottawa Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2005, which prohibits the use, production, transfer, stockpiling, and even development of these indiscriminate weapons.