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Global cluster-bomb ban draws moral line in the sand

Supporters of the treaty, to be unveiled in Dublin Friday, hope that it will pressure nonsignatories – including the US – to stop using the weapons.

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Supporters of the treaty, to be formally unveiled today in Ireland, hope it will pressure nonsignatories – including the US – to stop using the weapons. More than 100 nations have agreed to the text.

Mohammed Zaatari/AP

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Diplomats from 111 countries will unveil a treaty on Friday to ban cluster bombs that have left war zones around the world littered with lethal weapons long after hostilities ended.

The pact, to be signed in Oslo in December, requires a signatory to "never under any circumstances ... use cluster munitions," though loopholes don't prohibit possible future designs with self-destruct mechanisms and other restrictions.

Absent from the 10 days of talks in Dublin were some of the top producers and users of cluster bombs: the US, Israel, Russia, China, India, and Pakistan. But experts who worked with diplomats to draft the text say that is less important than codifying the ban in international law.

"In essence, we now have a worldwide ban on the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions," says Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst at the New York-based Human Rights Watch. "[It] is really going to stigmatize the weapon and its use in the future."

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