DUBLIN, Ireland, May 22 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch accused the U.S. government Thursday of trying to negotiate "dangerous loopholes" in a new treaty on cluster bombs.
The United States is not participating in a conference in Dublin working on the final text of a treaty. But the group said U.S. allies are working at the direction of the State Department to get rid of a provision that would ban parties to the treaty from participating in joint military operations with countries that have not signed that involve cluster munitions.
"We are here to ban cluster munitions, not to create loopholes that would make it easier for the United States to use them," said Steve Goose, director of the Arms division at Human Rights Watch.
Cluster munitions are made up of smaller bombs or bomblets. Some of the bomblets fail to explode on impact and can remain dangerous for years.
Civilians in Vietnam are still being maimed or killed by cluster bomblets decades after the end of the war there.
The United States claims the provision in the draft treaty could bar it from participating in humanitarian missions because U.S. Navy ships are equipped with cluster munitions, Goose said.