Expal is said to be the most important private company in Spain and one of the European leaders in the explosive and ammunition industry.
At almost the same time more than 100 campaigners against cluster bombs staged a lie-down protest in the middle of O'Connell Street in Dublin this morning (see picture).
Representatives of more than 100 states are attending a conference in Ireland this week which aims to ban the manufacture and use of cluster munitions. The United States, Russia and Britain - some of the most prolific users of the small munitions – are not attending.
The United States will not agree to a ban on the use of cluster bombs because the weapons remain tactically useful for fending off advancing armies and for self-defence, a US official said Wednesday. "We think this kind of blanket ban is a mistake," said Stephen Mull, the US State Department's top official for political and military affairs.
Foreign Policy in Focus says according to the most comprehensive research to date, the vast majority of confirmed casualties from this type of weapon have been civilians. In the past 10 years, the United States has used cluster bombs in civilian-populated areas of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo. These weapons also have an established track record of killing and injuring U.S. soldiers. During Operation Desert Storm, U.S. cluster submunitions were responsible for more U.S. troop casualties (80) than any Iraqi weapons system.
“Cluster munitions do not know when the war has ended,” said Mark Engman, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “Children stumble over them long after the conflict has ended or pick them up thinking that they are toys.”
Yet the US thinks, "...this kind of blanket ban is a mistake."
The following is from Think Spain.
Greenpeace activists target cluster bomb factory
Around thirty Greenpeace activists broke into the head offices of the Expal armament company in Madrid this morning to "point the finger" at manufacturers of cluster bombs and demand that their prohibition.
The protesters broke into the reception area of the office building where they displayed cardboard cut-outs of mutilated victims and scattered a large number of artificial limbs around to symbolise all the innocent people around the world who have been either injured, mutilated or killed by this kind of weapon.
Furthermore, the protesters hung a large banner on the outside of the building with a photo of a mutilated child and the message 'Expal make cluster bombs that mutilate'.
They had hoped for a meeting with company directors to express their views and hand over an artificial limb and a video filmed in Cambodia of an 18 year old boy who lost both of his arms to a cluster bomb, asking: "please stop making these bombs."
Greenpeace also plan to deliver protheses and copies of the video to the Defence and Foreign Affairs ministries.