US investigating IDF cluster bomb use

New York Times: State Dep't inquiry probably won't lead to sanctions.

This week, the US State Department began investigating Israel's use of American-made cluster bombs in south Lebanon, and whether their use violated secret agreements with Washington, The New York Times reported Friday. The State Department's Office of Defense Trade Controls launched an investigation into Israel's use of three types of American weapons, anti-personnel munitions that spray bomblets over a wide area, The New York Times reported. The newspaper quoted several current and former US officials as saying they doubted the probe would lead to sanctions against Israel, but that it might be an effort by the Bush administration to ease Arab criticism of its military support for Israel. The US has also postponed a shipment of M-26 artillery rockets, another cluster weapon, to Israel, the paper said. United Nations demining experts refused to comment on the reported US investigation into whether Israel's use of such weapons might violate American rules, but suggested it violated some aspects of international law. "It's not illegal to use against soldiers or your enemy, but according to Geneva Conventions it's illegal to use them (cluster bombs) in civilian areas," said Dalya Farran, spokeswoman for the UN Mine Action Coordination Center, which has an office in the southern port city of Tyre. "But it's not up to us to decide if it's illegal - I'm just giving facts and letting others do analysis."