Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 11 July 2016

Summary: Non-signatory Turkey supports the convention’s humanitarian objectives, but has not taken any steps toward accession. It has participated in every meeting of the convention and has condemned new use of cluster munitions. Yet Turkey abstained from voting on a UN resolution on the convention in December 2015. Turkey states that it has not used or exported cluster munitions and has not produced them since 2005. It has imported cluster munitions and possesses a stockpile.


The Republic of Turkey has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Turkey has expressed support for the humanitarian objectives of the convention, but generally has not elaborated on its position concerning accession. In March 2009, it informed the Monitor that “for the time being” Turkey could not consider accession as its primary aim was to fulfill its obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty, to which it is a State Party.[1] Turkey concluded the destruction of its stockpiled antipersonnel landmines in 2011, after missing the initial stockpile destruction deadline.

On 7 December 2015, Turkey abstained from the vote on the first UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which urges states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[2] Turkey did not explain the reason for its abstention on the non-binding resolution, which 140 states adopted, including many non-signatories.

Turkey attended several of the diplomatic conferences of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions. However, it participated only as an observer in the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 and did not sign at the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008.[3]

Turkey participated as an observer in the convention’s First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015, but did not make any statements. It has attended every Meeting of States Parties of the convention and intersessional meetings held in Geneva in 2013–2015.

Turkey has condemned the use of cluster munitions on several occasions.[4] It has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2015.[5]

CMC member the Initiative for a Mine-Free Turkey works to garner domestic support for the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Turkey is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). Turkey supported efforts to conclude a CCW protocol on these weapons and munitions. The CCW in 2011 failed to agree to a new protocol on cluster munitions, effectively ending deliberations on the topic and leaving the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole international instrument dedicated to ending the suffering caused by these weapons.


In March 2009, Turkey informed the Monitor that it is “not making use of cluster munitions.”[6] Since then, officials continued to affirm that Turkey has not and does not use cluster munitions.[7] There is some evidence to indicate cluster munitions were used at least once in the past, in 1994.[8]

A United States (US) Department of State cable from February 2008 made public by Wikileaks in May 2011, states that “there exists a de facto moratorium on the use of cluster munitions by the Turkish armed forces [but] Turkey’s military doctrine continues to call for the use of cluster munitions in the event of an ‘all out war.’”[9]

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

In the past, Turkey produced, exported, and imported cluster munitions. It stockpiles cluster munitions, but has not disclosed information on the types or quantities possessed.

In June 2010, Turkey informed the Monitor that it “does not use, transfer, produce or import cluster munitions.”[10] Officials continue to state that Turkey “no longer produces, transfers, exports or imports cluster munitions; has not produced cluster munitions since 2005; and has never used cluster munitions in the past.”[11]

At least two Turkish companies have produced ground-delivered cluster munitions:

  • Makina ve Kimya Endüstrisi Kurumu (MKEK) has produced an extended range M396 155mm artillery projectile containing self-destructing M85 dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions.[12] It has also produced M483A1 155mm artillery projectiles with DPICM submunitions, under license from the US.[13]
  • Roketsan has produced the TRK-122 122mm rocket, which contains 56 M85 DPICM submunitions.[14]

Turkey sold 3,020 TRK-122 122mm rockets to the United Arab Emirates in 2006–2007.[15]

The US supplied Turkey with 3,304 Rockeye cluster bombs, each containing 247 submunitions, at some point between 1970 and 1995.[16] In 1995, the US announced that it would provide Turkey with 120 ATACMS missiles with submunitions for its M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) launchers.[17] Turkey also possesses US-supplied M26 rockets, each with 644 submunitions, for its MLRS. In 2004, the US announced its intent to transfer to Turkey two CBU-103 Combined Effects Munitions cluster bombs, each with 202 submunitions, and two AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapons (JSOW), each with 145 submunitions.[18] In 2005, it announced the proposed sale of another 50 CBU-103 and 50 JSOW.[19]

Slovakia reported the export of 380 AGAT 122mm rockets, each containing 56 submunitions, to Turkey in 2007.[20]

Chile’s Ministry of National Defense has provided the Monitor with a document detailing the export of four CB-250 cluster bombs to Turkey in 1996.[21]

[1] In the letter, Turkey also said that it shares the “humanitarian concerns behind the efforts limiting the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions” and “attaches importance to the restriction of the use of cluster munitions.” Letter from Amb. Tomur Bayer, Director-General, International Security Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Human Rights Watch (HRW), 2 March 2009.

[2]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.

[3] For details on Turkey’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see HRW and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 246–249.

[4] Statement of Turkey, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 23 June 2015. Notes by HRW; and statement of Turkey, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 3 September 2014. Notes by HRW.

[5]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 70/234, 23 December 2015. Turkey voted in favor of similar resolutions on 15 May and 18 December 2013, and in 2014.

[6] Letter from Amb. Tomur Bayer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs to HRW, 2 March 2009.

[7] See also email from İsmail Çobanoğlu, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN in New York, 24 June 2010; email from Ramazan Ercan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 8 August 2011; CMC meeting with Kultuhan Celik, Second Secretary, Embassy of Turkey to Zambia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 11 September 2013; and Monitor meeting with Ramazan Ercan, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN in Geneva, Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Meeting of Experts on Protocol V, Geneva, 7 April 2015.

[8] In January 1994, the Turkish Air Force carried out an attack on the Zaleh camp of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, PKK) in northern Iraq near the Iranian border. Turkish television reported that US-supplied cluster bombs were used. See HRW, “U.S. Cluster Bombs for Turkey?,” Vol. 6, No. 19, December 1994, citing Foreign Broadcast Information Network, Western Europe, FBIS-WEU-94-0919, 28 January 1994, p. 26, from Ankara TRT Television Network in Turkish, 11:00 GMT, 18 January 1994.

[9]Turkey Shares USG Concerns About Oslo Process,” US Department of State cable dated 12 February 2008, released by Wikileaks on 20 May 2011.

[10] Email from İsmail Çobanoğlu, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN in New York, 24 June 2010.

[11] Email from Ramazan Ercan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 8 August 2011. This was confirmed in a Monitor interview with Ramazan Ercan, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN in Geneva, Geneva, 7 April 2015.

[12] MKEK, “155 mm M396 ERDP Ammunition,” undated.

[13] Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), pp. 635–636.

[15] Submission of the Republic of Turkey, UN Register of Conventional Arms, Report for Calendar Year 2006, 22 March 2007; and Report for Calendar Year 2007, 7 July 2008.

[16] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970–FY1995,” obtained by HRW in a Freedom of Information Act request, 28 November 1995.

[17] Congressional Record, “Proposed Sale of Army Tactical Missile System to Turkey,” 11 December 1995, p. E2333. Each ATACMS missile contains 300 or 950 submunitions.

[18] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “Notifications to Congress of Pending US Arms Transfers,” No. 05-12, 7 October 2004.

[19] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “Turkey – Munitions and Aircraft Components for F-16 Aircraft,” press release, Transmittal No. 05-29, 8 September 2005; and US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “Turkey Wants the AGM-154A/C Joint Standoff Weapons,” press release, Transmittal No. 05-33, 6 September 2005.

[20] Submission of the Slovak Republic, UN Register of Conventional Arms, Report for Calendar Year 2007, 12 June 2008. In 2014, Slovakia reported that it prepared a contract in 2011 to produce 8,000 AGAT cluster munition rockets for Turkish company ROKETSAN, which supplies the Turkish army, at a cost of €25.6 million. However, the transfer did not happen as the Turkish Ministry of Defense did not sign-off on it, apparently due to financial and other reasons. “Draft Action Plan for the Implementation of the Commitments of the Slovak Republic under the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” attached to Letter No. 590.736/2014-OKOZ from Miroslav Lajčák, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs to Sarah Blakemore, CMC, 25 April 2014.

[21] “Exports of Cluster Bombs Authorized in the Years 1991–2001,” official document by General Directorate of National Mobilization (Dirección General de Movilización Nacional), Chilean Ministry of National Defense document provided together with letter from the Brig. Gen. Roberto Ziegele Kerber, Director-General of National Mobilization, Ministry of National Defense of Chile, 18 May 2012.