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UK deception in removing US cluster bombs revealed by Wikileaks

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Dec 2, IRNA -- British and American officials colluded to hoodwink parliament over a proposed ban on cluster bombs, according to leaked US cables published by Wikileaks.

In April this year, the then Minister for International Defence and Security, Baroness Taylor assured the British parliament that US cluster munitions will be “removed from sites in the UK in 2010 and from all UK territories by 2013.'

But behind the scenes, former foreign secretary David Miliband approved the use of a loophole in the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) to manoeuvre around the ban and allow the US to keep the munitions on British territory, according to the diplomatic leaks.

One cable reveals that most of the US cluster munitions are being stored on US vessels off Diego Garcia, apparently to circumvent the ban on the weapons remaining on British soil after 2013.

Britain, which rents the Indian Ocean islands to American forces, signed up to the international convention but the US insisted cluster bombs remain 'legitimate weapons that provide a vital military capability'.

One US cable goes as far as quoting a senior Foreign Office official saying “it would be better for the US and UK “not to reach final agreement on this temporary agreement understanding until after the CCM ratification process is completed in parliament.”

This would allow the UK to “tell parliamentarians that they have requested the USG (US government) to remove its cluster munitions by 2013, without complicating/muddying the debate by having to indicate that this request is open to exceptions.'

According to the BBC, the British Foreign Office (FCO) denied it had been deceitful. 'We reject any allegation that the FCO deliberately misled or failed in our obligation to inform Parliament,' it said.

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