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Iraq

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 11 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what records have been kept by coalition forces on the location of cluster munitions used in Iraq; and when this information will be made available to non-governmental organisations. [116814]

[holding answer 5 June 2003]: A detailed record of the areas where cluster munitions and other ordnance are known to have been used in Iraq, and any ordnance discovered by troops on the ground, is maintained by the coalition in theatre. The information is made available to non-governmental organisations at the Civil Military Operations Centre in Iraq and the Humanitarian Operations Centre in Kuwait.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the availability was in percentage terms of the Challenger II fleet deployed in Operation TELIC on (a) the first day of combat operations, (b) 30 April and (c) the average for the duration of combat operations in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [111823]

Post operational reporting will provide analysis and assessment of the performance of equipment deployed on operations in Iraq. It would, therefore, be premature for me to provide a detailed assessment of the performance or availability of individual equipments at this stage. However, the indications are that the Challenger 2 fleet deployed on Operation TELIC was very reliable and performed impressively.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he is having with (a) his US counterparts and (b) other Coalition forces regarding the clearance of unexploded ordnance in Iraq. [113736]

The Joint Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group liaises on a daily basis with their US counterparts through a Liaison Officer in the Coalition Explosive Ordnance Disposal Co-ordination Centre. The group has and will have direct liaison with all coalition Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams as they come into theatre. A Spanish EOD Group is currently carrying out demining in the Safwan area under the tactical command of British forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many qualified personnel are engaged in clearing cluster bomb type ordnance in Iraq; and how long he estimates it will take to clear them up and make these areas safe for civilians. [117599]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 5 June 2003, Official Report, column 510W, to the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock).Providing a safe, secure risk-free environment for the Iraqi people is a key aspect of restoration activity for the coalition, and there is an operation currently under way to locate and mark areas contaminated with mines and unexploded ordnance, which also includes bomblets. United Kingdom forces, in conjunction with the Iraqi Mine Action Centre (a part of the Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority), are in the process of marking and documenting over 400 unexploded ordnance sites in the UK area of operation in southern Iraq. Once this task is complete, the process of removing unexploded ordnance will be co-ordinated by the Iraqi Mine Centre. No timescale has been set for completion of the task.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the timescale is for the removal of the unexploded bomblets deposited by cluster bombs from Iraq. [118194]

Providing a safe, secure and risk free environment for the Iraqi people is a key aspect of restoration activity for the Coalition. United Kingdom forces, in conjunction with the Iraqi Mine Action Centre (a part of the Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority), are in the process of marking and documenting around 400 unexploded ordnance sites in the UK area of operation in southern Iraq, which will include unexploded cluster munition bomblets. Once this task is complete, the process of removing unexploded ordnance will be co-ordinated by the Iraqi Mine Action Centre. No time scale has been set for completion of the task.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what record the British Army has of the location of unexploded bomblets in Iraq. [118195]

The Joint Force Exploded Ordnance Disposal Cell in Iraq has records of munitions, including bomblets, dropped by coalition aircraft and delivered by artillery, and are consequently aware of possible locations of unexploded bomblets that are as a result of Operation Telic. Areas of suspected mine and UXO contamination (including bomblets), of which there are over 400 in the United Kingdom area of operation, are currently being checked to provide more accurate details of potential hazards.