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Cambodia Not Ready for Munitions Pact: Official

Cambodiais not ready to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions, due to stockpiles it is currently holding, a senior government official said Thursday.

Cambodia is still assessing the cost and means associated with finding a replacement to its current munitions, Prak Sokhon, vice president of the Cambodia Mine Action Authority, said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

We need more time to study the number of cluster munitions we have and if we need to replace them in order for us to sign the convention,” he said.

The government also needs to know “how much money and time we need to replace the munitions with the ones that are not banned,” he said. “Once we have these, we can then sign it.”

The UN took the opportunity on National Mine Awareness Day on Wednesday to renew an appeal for Cambodiato renew its commitment to the eliminating cluster munitions.

“We urge Cambodiato sign and ratify as soon as possible the Convention on Cluster Munitions to demonstrate its commitment to a peaceful and secure world,” the UN said in a statement.

Cambodiais peppered with landmines, remnants of decades of civil strife, though the number of mine- and ordnance-related fatalities has dropped over the past four years, falling from 450 in 2006 to 243 in 2009.

The decrease was due to better demining operations, law enforcement and coordination in identifying mined areas, Prak Sokhon said.