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Claim that “smart” weapons pose little risk to civilians is “absurd”

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 26 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:198
  1. Tessa Smallwood
  1. London

    Claims by the military that “smart” weapons are precision instruments that allow the waging of war with little risk to civilians are “totally absurd,” said Dominick Jenkins, a research affiliate at Cambridge University. He was speaking at a meeting in London last week convened by the Royal Society of Medicine's catastrophes and conflict forum.

    Although new discriminating weapons can be deployed within minutes from remote sites, their effectiveness and safety with respect to “collateral damage” depends entirely on the quality of intelligence and communication that underpins the decision to use them, the forum heard.

    War waged at a distance increased the risk of mistakes, said Michael Clark, director of the International Policy Institute at King's College, London, and raised questions about who takes legal and moral responsibility for its conduct.

    Smart weapons have made war safer for the military but have …

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