Examination of witnesses (Questions 1220
WEDNESDAY 21 JUNE 2000
MOORE and MR
1220. I supported the use of force so there
is no need to lecture me on that. Are you telling me that the
failure rate is no different from 30,000 feet to under 15,000
feet? Is that what you are telling me? You have admitted that
the MoD have done no tests on that, that you relied on the manufacturer's
own assessment of the failure rate. Why did you do no tests on
that? Why did you use it without doing any tests on it?
(Mr Hoon) The failure rate of the cluster bomb concerns
the bomblets that are released at the time.
(Mr Hoon) I am not a technical expert on munitions
but my understanding is that the failure rate would still be the
same whatever height the bomb was dropped. It does not make any
difference whether you drop it from 20,000 feet or from 200 feet.
1222. Is it likely to land on the target, for
example, at a higher level? What is the likelihood of it differing
from its target?
(Mr Hoon) That has not actually been the difficulty
as far as cluster bombs are concerned. The criticism has been
that some of the bomblets5 per centhave not exploded.
Now they have been left on the ground and I recognise that there
have been civilian casualties as a result. I am not saying to
you that those decisions were taken lightly; they were not. This
is an extremely effective weapon and had we not used that extremely
effective weapon we would have put our forces at greater risk.
1223. Did not the US military, or at least NATO
itself, alter its policy in the war and not use these at as a
high a level as we did? Did we not use them at a higher level
than anybody else? Is that not the case?
(Mr Webb) The US stopped using them for a period.
(Mr Webb) And then resumed after they had cleared
1225. Can we have an explanation what the points
were that the US were concerned with?
(Mr Webb) "The type of cluster bomb ..."it
is in this report".....
used by the US was discovered to have a fault and was temporarily
withdrawn from service, being returned to service shortly thereafter
for use until the end of the conflict. The UK uses a different
type, which continued to function normally, and there was thus
no reason for it to be withdrawn".
1226. I will let Mr Cohen ask you if or the
Americans intended to bomb the Chinese Embassy and then we will
(Mr Hoon) Of course they did not intend to bomb the
1227. I hear what you are saying. Why was the
Chinese Embassy hit by US aircraft, a B2 Stealth bomber operating
from the US requiring air to air refuelling rather than a more
locally based aircraft? Was the attack on the Embassy unusual?
How many other targets were hit by US based aircraft? Why were
all the targets not decided on a multinational basis? Does not
a unilateral targeting policy detract from the efforts to build
a multinational coalition? Does this not impact the fact that
there was a parallel war going on, something incidentally that
NATO officials told us privately, that there was a different set
of decisions made not necessarily at NATO headquarters? What information
have you got that there was a parallel war going on?
(Mr Hoon) Let me make it quite clear that the bombing
of the Chinese Embassy was a targeting mistake. No-one has ever
said anything else.
Mr Hancock: No, that is not true.
1228. Excuse me, Harry asked ten questions and
the Secretary of State will try to answer in a few minutes a couple
(Mr Hoon) I indicated to the Committee earlier when
we looked at this aspect of the bombing campaign that there are
always tensions between those nations which commit their forces
into particular circumstances and clearly a wish to ensure that
their own forces are not put at unnecessary or unreasonable risk
in the course of the decisions that are taken as far as, for example,
bombings are concerned. There are discussions that take place
between Allies in this kind of multinational operation as to the
appropriate use of each country's assets. As I said to the Committee
earlier, you would expect me, on behalf of the United Kingdom,
to have a very clear control over UK personnel and equipment deployed
on this kind of international operation. That was the same as
far as the United States were concerned.
Mr Cohen: Yes, there was a parallel war
going on. They had whole operational control, they chose the targets
they wanted to hit, including the Chinese Embassy, which may or
may not have been a mistake, but it certainly was not under NATO
Chairman: Come, Mr Cohen, we asked this
question on whether it was US strategy or NATO strategy at about
11.30. You can read the transcript.
Mr Cohen: I was here.
Chairman: You can read the transcript.
We are not taking any more questions.
Mr Hancock: The Secretary of State said
something which is in complete contradiction of what we have been
told. Deputy SACEUR told us that that building was a target, and
it was a target
1229. We are not going to argue. We have had
enough now. We have had 2.5 hours. I am not ending in acrimony.
We can read what Rupert Smith said in the transcript.
(Mr Hoon) I do not want anyone to be in any doubt
about this, Chairman. I apologise for carrying on with this, but
there is no doubt that the particular building was targeted. What
no one was aware of, as far as the chain of command responsible
for taking the decisions is concerned, was that that particular
building was the Chinese Embassy. Therefore, if you will forgive
me, there was a mistake, which is what I said, and I do not think
that that can be contradicted.
Mr Hancock: But it cannot be right, can
it, if that was a legitimate target? The targets were looked at
specifically and in great detail, because sometimes they were
not hit straightaway, they were looked at time and time again.
What was it you thought you were hitting there? No one has told
Mr Cann: The CIA was using an old map
which had a different use at one time.
Mr Hancock: But they had to have a use
Chairman: We are now concluding. Secretary
of State, an exciting ending. Thank you to you and your team for
coming along. We shall be producing our report in due course.
Thank you very much.
7 Note by witness: paragraph 7.47 of "Kosovo:
Lessons from the Crisis" (Cm 4724). Back