The problem of high dud rates in cluster bombs has been well known to the military for years. The 5 percent dud rate mentioned in "NATO `Duds' Keep Killing in Kosovo" [front page, July 19] must be characterized as more of a prayer than a fact: Dud rates among cluster munitions were as high as 30 percent during the Vietnam War. Dud rates during the Gulf War were as high as 20 percent.

Laos remains littered with millions of duds in unmarked minefields. They continue to kill farmers who strike them with implements and children who mistake them for toys. Many young victims' parents were not even born when the United States dropped these weapons in unprecedented numbers. The grandchildren of Kosovars and Serbs alike will die as they discover unexploded bombs in the future.

The military was aware of how attractive these "bomblets" are. Numerous similar stories came out of the Gulf War explaining that the brightly colored and appealing shapes made unexploded cluster bombs irresistible to child and soldier alike.

These weapons should be banned from the U.S. arsenal and arsenals around the world.

VIRGIL WIEBE

Baltimore

The writer is a consultant to the Mennonite Central Committee on duds.