Norway will be the first of 96 countries to destroy all stockpiles of cluster munitions following the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2006, which highlighted the long-term humanitarian suffering caused by the weapon.

Norway was the first country to both sign and ratify the convention, which has so far been signed by 96 countries including 20 of the 28 NATO countries.

Norwegian Deputy Minister of Defence Espen Barth Eide said that Norway wished to follow up on international efforts with practical action at home.

“According to the convention, there is an eight-year deadline for destruction of national stockpiles. However, to avoid further proliferation of existing stocks, I find it extremely important that states start the national destruction processes as soon as possible,” Eide said.

In March this year The Norwegian Armed Forces and Nammo Demil Divisjon AB signed a contract covering the destruction of the Norwegian stockpile of cluster munitions.

The first batch of munitions where destroyed in old copper mines, 910m below ground.

It is expected that the process of destroying these munitions will be complete by the end of July 2010.

By Daniel Garrun.