Bulgaria

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 03 August 2017

Summary: State Party Bulgaria ratified the convention on 6 April 2011 and enacted implementing legislation in November 2015. Bulgaria has participated in almost every meeting of the convention and has condemned the use of cluster munitions in Syria. Bulgaria was a lead sponsor on and voted for a key UN resolution promoting implementation of the convention in December 2016.

In its initial transparency report for the convention provided in 2012, Bulgaria confirmed that it has never used or produced cluster munitions. It has reported a stockpile of 6,909 cluster munitions and 173,161 submunitions and does not intend to retain any for research and training. Bulgaria is preparing to destroy its stockpiled cluster munitions by the October 2019 deadline. It has also reported cluster munition stocks transferred to Bulgaria for the purposes of destruction from Cyprus in 2014 and Slovenia in 2011.

Policy

The Republic of Bulgaria signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008, ratified on 6 April 2011, and the convention entered into force for the country on 1 October 2011.

Bulgaria’s parliament adopted implementing legislation for both the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty on 24 November 2015, which took effect on 8 December 2015.[1] It also amended Articles 337–339 of the Penal Code in June 2016 to establish penal sanctions for violations of the new implementation law on the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[2]

The coordination of Bulgaria’s implementation of and compliance with the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including the preparation of a stockpile destruction plan, is the responsibility of an interim National Authority established in January 2012.[3]

Bulgaria submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 27 March 2012 and has provided annual updated reports since then, most recently on 30 June 2017.[4]

Bulgaria played a notable role in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including hosting a regional conference in Sofia in September 2008. It was among a handful of states to announce a unilateral moratorium on the use of cluster munitions prior to the creation of the convention.[5]

Bulgaria has participated in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention, except in 2014. It attended the convention’s Sixth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2016. Bulgaria also participated in the convention’s First Review Conference in 2015 and intersessional meetings in 2011–2015.

Bulgaria voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting implementation of the convention in December 2016.[6] It was also a lead sponsor on a previous resolution on the convention in 2015.[7]

Bulgaria has condemned the use of cluster munitions in Syria on several occasions since 2013.[8] It has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2016.[9]

Bulgaria is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Interpretive issues

In 2009, Bulgaria elaborated its views on several important issues relating to the interpretation and implementation of the convention.[10] Bulgaria interprets Article 1 of the convention to mean that “transit” of cluster munitions across the territory of States Parties is prohibited, as is the stockpiling of foreign-owned cluster munitions. Bulgaria has noted that while a ban on investment in cluster munition production is not explicit in the convention text, it would need to be “considered in light of the general prohibition on the development and production of cluster munitions.”

With respect to “interoperability” and the prohibition on assistance during joint military operations with states not party, Bulgaria has stated that it “will fully observe the regulations of Article 21 of the Convention…Par. 4 of Article 21 stipulates that participation in such military operations ‘shall not authorize a State Party’ to engage in acts prohibited under the terms of the Convention and contains an exhaustive list of such acts.”

Use, production, and transfer

In 2009, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative said that “cluster munitions have never been used by the Bulgarian Armed Forces.”[11]

Bulgaria has reported that there “are no programmes for the conversion or decommissioning of production facilities for cluster munitions in the Republic of Bulgaria.”[12] In 2008, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official stated that “Bulgaria does not and has not produced any type of cluster munitions.”[13]

Stockpiling and destruction

Bulgaria has reported a stockpile of 6,909 cluster munitions and 173,161 submunitions, as detailed in the following table.

Cluster munitions stockpiled by Bulgaria (June 2017)[14]

Type of munitions

Quantity

Type of submunitions

Quantity

RBK-250-275 bombs

238

AO-1SCh

35,700

RBK-250-275 bombs

1

AO-2.5SCh

150

RBK-250 bombs

60

ZAB-2.5SM

2,880

RBK-250 bombs

488

PTAB-2.5M

20,496

RBK-250 bombs

2

 

0

RBK-500 bombs

201

AO-2.5RT

12,060

RBK-500 bombs

86

ZAB-2.5SM

10,062

 

0

ZAB-2.5SM

2,939

RBK-500 bombs

36

ShOAB-0.5M

20,340

RBK-500 bombs

3

ShOAB-0.5

1,695

RBK-500-255 bombs

2

 

0

BKF cartridges

3,086

AO-2.5RT

37,032

BKF cartridges

740

PTM-3

5,920

BKF cartridges

1,957

PTAB-2.5

23,484

PBS-100 bomb

1

AO-25-33

3

9N123K missile warheads

8

9N24

400

Total

6,909

 

173,161

 

Bulgaria initially declared a stockpile of 6,874 cluster munitions and 149,398 submunitions.[15] It increased that number to 6,909 cluster munitions and 157,664 submunitions after discovering additional stocks in March 2013.[16] In 2014, Bulgaria reported another 15,497 submunitions, making an overall total of 173,161 stockpiled submunitions.[17]

The cluster munition stocks have been decommissioned and separated from the munitions that are retained for operational use and “the entire Bulgarian stock of cluster munitions is marked for destruction.”[18]

Bulgaria has also reported on cluster munition stocks transferred from Cyprus and Slovenia to Bulgaria for destruction (see section on foreign stocks below).

Stockpile destruction

Under Article 3 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Bulgaria is required to destroy all its stockpiled cluster munitions as soon as possible, but not later than 1 October 2019.

Bulgaria has committed to destroy the cluster munitions stockpile “well in advance” of the convention’s deadline, but had not started as of 30 June 2017.[19] In September 2016, Bulgaria informed the Sixth Meeting of States Parties that the adoption of national implementation legislation delayed its implementation of the destruction timetable, but affirmed its intent to meet the deadline.[20] Bulgaria’s implementing legislation requires the destruction of the stockpile and established a commission to solicit and process tenders from companies to destroy the cluster munitions.[21]

In June 2017, Bulgaria also reported that a stockpile destruction program by the Bulgarian Armed Forces, managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), was suspended in January 2017 because EXPAL Bulgaria, the contractor selected, “could not meet the criteria for authorization under the Bulgarian legislation.”[22] It reported that Bulgarian authorities are exploring “new options for the destruction of the cluster munitions under jurisdiction or control of the Republic of Bulgaria…A National Plan for the destruction of the cluster munitions is in a process of preparation. Once all financial and technological modalities are cleared, it will be finalized. More information will be provided upon adoption.”

Bulgaria initially hoped to begin the stockpile destruction in 2011.[23] Since 2012, it has engaged in an extensive process to prepare the destruction plan and budget.[24]

Stockpile and destruction of foreign stocks

In May 2016 and June 2017, Bulgaria reported that 41,825 PAT794 submunitions transferred by Convention on Cluster Munitions State Party Slovenia in 2011 are still awaiting destruction in Bulgaria.[25] In 2012, Slovenia reported the completion of the destruction of its stockpile of 1,080 PAT-794 Long-Range/Base Bleed (LR/BB) 155mm artillery projectiles and 52,920 submunitions on 29 July 2011.[26] Bulgaria also reported Slovenia’s transfer in 2011 of cluster munitions for the purposes of stockpile destruction.[27]

However, in May 2016 and June 2017, Bulgaria reported that 41,825 PAT794 submunitions transferred from Slovenia to Bulgaria for destruction are still on Bulgarian territory at EXPAL Bulgaria.[28] In the report, Bulgaria explained that “The submunitions are parts of artillery shells, previously owned by the Armed forces of the Republic of Slovenia, which were decomposed in 2011. The submunitions were not destroyed due to wrong interpretation of the CCM [Convention on Cluster Munitions] provisions by the private company. The submunitions are in process of destruction (41 825 left out of 52 900 found).”

Under Article 3 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Slovenia is required to ensure the destruction of all its stockpiled cluster munitions as soon as possible, but not later than 1 August 2018.

Cyprus is a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and has not provided a voluntary Article 7 report or otherwise provided information on its stockpiled cluster munitions. But in June 2017, Bulgaria that it has 3,760 4.2-inch OF projectile for mortar GRM 20 and 2,559 M20G submunitions on its territory, which Cyprus transferred to Bulgaria in 2014 for destruction.[29] Bulgaria reported that “During the import process these CM and submunitions were declared as conventional munitions and submunitions. In order to destroy them, ‘EXPAL BULGARIA’ JSC should apply for and obtain a permission for destruction of CM, under the Law.”

Retention

Bulgaria reports that it does not intend to retain any cluster munitions for training or research purposes.[30]



[1] Letter Ref. 258 from Maria Pavlova, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch (HRW), 18 May 2016.

[2] The sanctions, which apply to activities involving cluster munitions and landmines, are generally greater than those for other weapons, including explosive, firearms, and ammunition. The amendments impose prison sentences of: one to 15 years for developing, producing, storing, or transferring these weapons; two to 15 years for failing to take relevant safety measures or transferring the weapons to persons under the age of 18; and three to 12 years for acquiring, possessing, or transferring the weapons without a permit. Law on the Criminal Code, Decree No. 182, Law No. 47/2016, adopted 8 June 2016.

[3] The inter-ministerial working group is chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and includes representatives of the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, and Ministry of Economy, Energy, and Tourism.

[4] The period for the initial Article 7 report provided on 27 March 2012 was not specified, while annual periods are covered by the reports provided on 30 April 2013 (for calendar year 2012), 8 April 2014 (for calendar year 2013), 14 April 2015 (for calendar year 2014), 18 May 2016 (for calendar year 2015), and 30 June 2017 (for calendar year 2016).

[5] For details on Bulgaria’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. 46–48.

[6]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 71/45, 5 December 2016.

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

[8] Statement of Bulgaria, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 23 October 2014.

[9]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 71/203, 19 December 2016. Bulgaria voted in favor of similar resolutions on 15 May and 18 December 2013, 18 December 2014, and 23 December 2015.

[10] Letter from Dr. Petio Petev, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 25 February 2009. According to the letter, “The prohibitions stipulated in Article 1 of the Convention create an obligation for the States Parties not to allow the transit, transfer or stockpiling on their territories of cluster munitions…regardless of whether these munitions are foreign or nationally owned.”

[11] Letter from Dr. Petev, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 25 February 2009.

[13] Email from Lachezara Stoeva, Chief Expert, Arms Control and International Security Department, NATO and International Security Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 17 May 2008. According to Jane’s Information Group, the Vazov Engineering Plant was associated with the production of 122mm Grad rockets, which included a variant that contains 15 dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) submunitions. See, Terry J. Gander and Charles Q. Cutshaw, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2001–2002 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2001), p. 625.

[14] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 18 May 2016; Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 14 April 2015; and letter from Vassil Petkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 13 May 2014. The BFK blocks containing PTM-3 antivehicle mines, the RBK bombs containing ZAB series incendiary submunitions, and the PBS-100 munition do not appear to be covered by the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the first contains antivehicle mines, the second contains incendiary submunitions, and the third contains three submunitions that each weigh more than 20 kilograms. The “PBS-100” is a previously unknown type of cluster munition that contains three submunitions weighing 27 kilograms.

[15] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 27 March 2012.

[16] The additional stockpiled cluster munitions were identified in March 2013 by a private company, EMCO Ltd. and scheduled for destruction: 25 RBK-250-275 cluster bombs containing AO-1SCh submunitions and 10 RBK-250 cluster bombs containing PTAB-2.5M submunitions. Email from Dragomir Zakov, Permanent Mission of Bulgaria to the UN in Geneva, 22 May 2013; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form J, 27 March 2012.

[17] In its April 2014 Article 7 transparency report Bulgaria reported possessing: 150 AO-1SCh submunitions (previously no information available); 42 fewer PTAB-2.5M submunitions; 5,337 additional ZAB-2.5SM; 5,676 additional AO-2.5RT; and 4,376 additional PTAB-2.5 submunitions.

[18] Statement of Bulgaria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 8 April 2014. In April 2012, it made a similar statement to the Monitor that “All cluster munitions have been decommissioned, separated from munitions retained for operational use and marked for the purpose of destruction.” Letter Ref. 55-76g-47 from Plamen Bonchev, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 23 April 2012. Bulgaria reiterated this in a letter to the Monitor in 2016. See, Letter Ref. 258 from Maria Pavlova, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 18 May 2016.

[19] Statement of Bulgaria, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, 7 September 2015.

[20] Statement of Bulgaria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 5 September 2016.

[21] Letter Ref. 258 from Maria Pavlova, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 18 May 2016.

[23] In April 2011, Bulgaria stated that stockpile destruction was scheduled to begin in 2011, with the aim of completing the destruction of the majority of its stockpile by 2013. It said that the eight cluster submunitions held by the land forces would be destroyed in 2016, when their shelf-life expires. Letter Ref. 04-06-98 from Plamen Bonchev, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sofia, 11 April 2011. A year later an official informed the Monitor that the stockpile destruction did not prove possible due to “austerity in the State budget in 2011.” Letter Ref. 55-76g-47 from Plamen Bonchev, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 23 April 2012.

[24] In April 2012, Bulgaria said that it was developing a plan for the destruction of stocks including a timeline and budget. In April 2013, Bulgaria announced that it was in “the final stages” of preparing the stockpile destruction plan. In May 2013, a Bulgarian official informed the Monitor that the draft stockpile destruction plan “has been elaborated” and the plans “financial parameters…await further clarification.” In April 2014, Bulgaria stated that the national plan was “close to being finalized” and said that physical destruction would begin after adoption of the plan. In May 2014, Bulgaria informed the Monitor that the plan is “undergoing an interagency review” and promised more information after its adoption. See, Letter Ref. 55-76g-47 from Plamen Bonchev, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 23 April 2012; statement of Bulgaria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 17 April 2013. Notes by the CMC; email from Dragomir Zakov, Permanent Mission of Bulgaria to the UN in Geneva, 22 May 2013; statement of Bulgaria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 8 April 2014; and letter from Vassil Petkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 13 May 2014.

[25] Bulgaria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 18 May 2016. In 2017, Bulgaria reported, “As it was previously declared, due to wrong interpretation of the CCM provisions by the private company ‘EXPAL BULGARIA’ JSC some 41825 submunitions, owned by the Armed Forces of the Republic of Slovenia, are stockpiled in the company’s warehouses. In January 2017, a Slovenian delegation inspected the warehouses of ‘EXPAL BULGARIA’ JSC and the remaining submunitions. ‘EXPAL BULGARIA’ JSC has undertaken the necessary procedure to obtain a permission to destroy these cluster submunitions.” Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 29 June 2017.

[26] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 30 March 2012; and statement of Slovenia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, Lebanon, 14 September 2011. Knowledgeable sources have speculated that the PAT-794 was produced by the ZVS company from Slovakia and contains 49 M85 dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions.

[28] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, form B, 18 May 2016; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 29 June 2017.

[30] Ibid.; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form C, 30 April 2013. The initial Article 7 report lists “N/A” or not applicable on Form C for cluster munitions retained, while the April 2013 report left Form C blank. In April and May 2014, Bulgaria reiterated its intention not to retain cluster munitions or explosive submunitions for training purposes. Statement of Bulgaria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 8 April 2014; and letter from Vassil Petkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 13 May 2014. During the 2015 Review Conference, Bulgaria confirmed that it “has no intention to retain cluster munitions or explosive submunitions for training purposes, permitted under article 3 of the Convention.” See, statement of Bulgaria, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, 7 September 2015.

Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 17 December 2012

The Republic of Bulgaria signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 4 September 1998, becoming a State Party on 1 March 1999. Bulgaria ceased antipersonnel mine export in 1996 and production in 1998. It reported 72 minefields on its territory, which had been laid during the Cold War. Bulgaria believes that existing legislation is sufficient to enforce the antipersonnel mine prohibition domestically. In 2011, Bulgaria submitted its 13th Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report.

Bulgaria finished destruction of its stockpile of 885,872 antipersonnel mines in December 2000, well ahead of its treaty-mandated destruction deadline of 1 March 2003. Bulgaria initially retained 10,446 mines for training purposes, but this was reduced to 3,672 by 31 March 2010 and has remained unchanged since.[1] In its 2010 Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report, Bulgaria also reported possessing 171,050 antipersonnel mines transferred to Bulgaria by Greece for the purpose of destruction.[2] By October 2010, Bulgaria had destroyed 614,882 Greek mines, but the contract for destruction was terminated.[3]

Bulgaria attended the Tenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November–December 2010 and the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in June 2011.

Bulgaria served as co-rapporteur and then co-chair of the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction from 2008–2010.

Bulgaria is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II on landmines and Protocol V on explosive remnants of war.

Clearance of all antipersonnel mines in mined areas was completed by 31 October 1999, well in advance of its 1 March 2009 mine clearance deadline.

 



[1] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period 31 March 2009 to 31 March 2010), Form D; and Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period 31 March 2010 to 31 March 2011), Form D.

[2] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period 31 March 2009 to 31 March 2010), Form D.

[3] Statement of Greece, Tenth Meeting of States Parties, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 2 December 2010. Notes by the ICBL. Greece declared that a 480 mine discrepancy between mines sent for destruction and mines reported destroyed by the Bulgarian company was under investigation. Due to delays, the contract for destruction of remaining mines by the Bulgarian company was terminated.