Just Like That Biden Bypasses US Law
President Joe Biden has approved the transfer of cluster bombs to Ukraine despite a United States law prohibiting the production, use, or transfer of such weapons with a failure rate higher than 1%. This decision comes shortly after the Biden administration's decision to provide Ukraine with tanks, weapons, and ammunition in an effort to push out Russian forces.
The cluster bombs, intended to destroy multiple targets at once, were first developed and used during World War II and are now banned by most countries due to the risk they pose to civilians with high failure rates and linger unexploded fragments that can last for years, the BBC reported.
However, the president is able to bypass U.S. law through a rarely used provision of the Foreign Assistance Act, The Washington Post reported. The provision allows the president to bypass arms export restrictions as long as he determines the move is vital to U.S. national security. U.S. officials have said that the cluster bombs that will be sent to Ukraine have a failure rate lower than 3%.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan supported the president’s decision and said that it was a “difficult” decision that was made “in consultation with allies and partners and in consultation with members of Congress.”
However, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has expressed dissatisfaction with the move and said that it was “dismaying' to see the “long-established 1 percent unexploded ordnance standard for cluster munitions rolled back as this will result in more duds, which means an even greater threat to civilians, including de-miners.”
The organization also said that Ukraine “caused numerous deaths and serious injuries to civilians” last year while using cluster bombs and that Russia has been using the munitions in its war against Ukraine.
The transfer of cluster bombs to Ukraine will come out of Pentagon stocks in a fresh batch of military aid that also includes armored vehicles and more ammunition.
Ukraine has welcomed the additional support from the U.S. and is now set to receive a round of cluster bombs in its counter-offensive against Russian forces. President Biden has promised to support the country “for as long as it takes” and believes the weapons are a necessary and effective way to prevent Russian aggression.
However, human rights advocates remain deeply concerned about the move and believe it will have devastating consequences for civilians. Many are calling for greater transparency surrounding the decision and are urging the Biden administration to reconsider the use of these inhumane weapons.