DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007 -- (Senate - September 06, 2006)
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Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I share the concerns that prompted the introduction of this amendment, but I am not prepared to approve such a far-reaching measure without a clear legislative record regarding the need for it and its likely impact on U.S. and allied forces.
Cluster bombs have always posed problems for responsible military forces like those of the United States. The weapons are very useful militarily, but they also carry a real risk of causing civilian casualties if they are used where civilians are present or if too many submunitions fail to explode when they hit the ground. This is a legitimate issue to consider and, perhaps, to legislate. But it should be done in a careful manner, after holding hearings and with proper preparation.
I urge the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings on the issue of cluster munitions so that we can all gain a better understanding of how to maintain their usefulness while minimizing their risks. The committee should also make sure the Defense Department lives up to its claim that it ``is working towards minimizing `dud' cluster munitions by phasing cluster munitions systems with more reliable or self-destructing fuzes.'' Success in that effort would go far to reduce the risks of postwar casualties.