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MPs call for inspections of Diego Garcia for US cluster bombs

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Feb 18, IRNA -- British MPs have launched a campaign for international inspections to confirm if all US cluster bombs have been removed from Diego Gracia under the terms of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).

Backbench Labour MP John McDonnell said he was “concerned that the American base on Diego Garcia, the largest outside the United States, could continue to be used for the storage of these munitions beyond 2013 when all such munitions, under the treaty, will not be allowed on any British soil.”

In an Early Day Motion to parliament, McDonnell called on the UK government, which unlike Washington is a signatory of the CMC, not to allow the US to use or store any cluster munitions on the Indian Ocean island it rents to American military force.

The UK should also not allow any United States ships carrying such munitions access to the island, he said in a copy of the motion obtained by IRNA.

The CMC came into force in August last year, but according to leaked US cables published by Wikileaks, British and American officials colluded to hoodwink the UK parliament over the ban on cluster bombs.

In April last 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 was said to have approved the use of a loophole in the convention to manoeuvre around the ban and allow the US to keep the munitions on Diego Garcia.

McDonnell’s parliamentary motion calls for “international arms inspectors to check and to confirm that all such munitions have been removed from Diego Garcia.”

One US diplomatic cable revealed that most of the US cluster munitions are being stored on American vessels off the island, apparently to circumvent the ban on the weapons remaining on British soil.

The British Foreign Office (FCO) has denied it had been deceitful over cluster munitions, which the US insists remain 'legitimate weapons that provide a vital military capability'.

'We reject any allegation that the FCO deliberately misled or failed in our obligation to inform Parliament,' a spokesperson said.

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