Last US Cluster Bomb Maker Shuts Down, But the Munitions Still in Use Worldwide

The last remaining U.S. cluster bomb maker has closed up shop, citing “regulatory scrutiny and reduced orders for the internationally banned munition,” Foreign Policy reports.

Rhode Island-based Textron Systems made the announcement just months after the Obama administration blocked the transfer of a CBU-105 shipment to Saudi Arabia. Human rights groups had been pressuring the U.S. government to take action amid evidence that the Saudi-led coalition had used cluster bombs in Yemen, possibly hurting and killing civilians.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) spokesperson Mary Wareham told Foreign Policy, “Textron was the last U.S. manufacturer of cluster munitions, so this decision now clears the path for the administration and Congress to work together to permanently end U.S. production, transfer, and use of cluster munitions.”

Now there is even more support for that call. On Thursday, a coalition of human rights groups known as the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), founded by HRW, published a report which found that cluster bombs in Yemen and Syria are causing “unacceptable human suffering and deserve a strong response.”

“More countries are endorsing the ban on cluster munition use enshrined in the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” Wareham said in a press release (pdf) for the report. “All countries concerned by the near-daily reports of cluster munition attacks in Syria should call for an immediate end to the use and encourage the users to embrace the international ban on these weapons.”